Sajid Javid: I was bullied at school for being Asian

Posted On: 
3rd December 2018

Sajid Javid has revealed he was violently attacked at secondary school because he was Asian. 

The Home Secretary revealed he had been bullied as hit out at the treatment of a 15-year-old Syrian teenager.
Credit: 
The House

The Home Secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he had been “punched to the ground” as a young boy because of his background.

The emotional revelation from the top Cabinet minister came as he spoke of his “outrage” at footage of a 15-year-old Syrian refugee known as Jamal being pushed to the ground in a Huddersfield playground.

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The widely-circulated video has already sparked a police probe, and Mr Javid told the programme: “I won’t comment on... the details because there is an investigation going on.

“But… I saw the video like anyone else and part of me, I was clearly absolutely outraged, and to be frank, it reminded [me] of an incident I had when I was 11 at school.

“That’s the immediate memories that came back to me - and obviously I hated it. And I thought how that young boy must feel.”

The Home Secretary said he had been bullied and attacked because of his background, adding: “When I was 11, when I just started my new comprehensive school, a very, very similar incident [took place]. It was just unavoidable, those memories flooded back for me… I was punched to the ground.”

Mr Javid said the attack on Jamal had prompted him to question how such incidents could “still be going on in our country”, and revealed that he had written a “personal note” to the teenager in the wake of the attack.

He said Jamal would be invited for a meeting with the Cabinet minister once the police investigation had been completed.

“I’d like him to come and see me with his family and at least just have a cup of tea or something,” Mr Javid said.

The Home Secretary also said he had found it “heartwarming” that so many members of the public had been angered by the attack on the teenager.

“The people being outraged weren’t sort of Asians like me or other, you know, ethnic minorities - it was the population,” he said.

“The general population were outraged and, to me, that says something really important about our values as people, our sense of fairness, and that’s what's heart-warming. That’s how British people react.”

Mr Javid’s comments echo those of Theresa May, who told reporters last week: “Most people were sickened and angered by it and the huge response and support shows our true spirit and shows that we are a welcoming country.”

IMMIGRATION WHITE PAPER DELAY

The Cabinet minister’s revelation came as he confirmed that the Government’s planned shake-up of Britain’s immigration system will not be revealed until after MPs have voted on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The Cabinet is thought to be deeply split on the Immigration White Paper, which aims to end preferential access to the UK labour market for EU citizens after Brexit and introduce fresh curbs on low-skilled migration.

There had been speculation that the white paper would be unveiled before MPs decide whether or not to back the Brexit agreement secured by the Prime Minister.

But, asked on when it would be published, Mr Javid said: “If you’re referring to the actual White Paper itself, it’s unlikely - actually, very unlikely to be published before the vote."

He added: “It will be published soon."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Sir Ed Davey said it was “shocking and unacceptable” for Mr Javid to confirm that the plans would not be outlined before the Brexit vote.

“For a ‘meaningful vote’, MPs need to know what might happen to immigration IF we leave,” he tweeted.

But Mr Javid said the White Paper represented “ the biggest change in our immigration system in over four decades”, and insisted it was “ important that we work on the details, that we listen to people, to businesses and others, and we get the details right”.

Pressed on whether he had personally raised concerns about a clampdown on low-skilled migration, the Home Secretary said: “The reality is I’m listening to my Cabinet colleagues.

“I’m listening to MPs and businesses, and others. Because it is important that when these proposals are published, that it’s been well thought-through.”

The Sun reported on Monday that Mr Javid is at odds with the Prime Minister over the plans, with Mrs May wanting to bring in curbs as soon as the Brexit transition phase ends in 2020.

But the Home Secretary is said to be concerned that bringing in the changes too quickly will have a negative impact on businesses.

"Sajid and the PM are at loggerheads.” a Whitehall source told the paper. “They agree on main points, but the argument is over how quickly they move to bring down low-skilled migration.

“Sajid wants to keep the system as it is for a while but she thinks there has to be a date, something to motivate firms to recruit here instead.”