Sajid Javid distances himself from Theresa May as he ditches 'hostile environment' phrase

Posted On: 
30th April 2018

Sajid Javid has ditched the "hostile environment" phrase to describe the Government approach to illegal immigration as he sought to distance himself from Theresa May's legacy at the Home Office.

Sajid Javid made his debut appearance at the despatch box as Home Secretary
Credit: 
Parliament TV

He announced the change of tack just hours after taking over as Home Secretary from Amber Rudd, who quit after admitting she "inadvertently misled" MPs over deportation targets.

Mr Javid said the controversial phrase - used by Theresa May during her six years in the job - "doesn’t represent our values as a country".

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His comments came as he answered an urgent question from Diane Abbott on the Government’s handling of the Windrush scandal, which has seen people of Caribbean descent facing deportation and the loss of access to public services despite living and working in the UK for decades.

The new Home Secretary said: "The phrase 'hostile' is a phrase that I’m not going to use. It’s a 'compliant environment'. I don’t like the phrase hostile, so the terminology is incorrect and I think that it is a phrase that is unhelpful and it doesn’t represent our values as a country to use that phrase,” he said.

"It’s about a compliant environment, and its right that we do have a compliant environment and it’s a process that begun under previous governments, it’s continued, but its right that we make a big distinction between those that are here legally and those who are illegal."

But Tory MP Desmond Swayne later intervened to say while Mr Javid “prefers the term compliance, some of us believe that hostility to law breaking is a proper response”.

Shadow Home Secretary Ms Abbott said British people were “ashamed” by the Windrush scandal, while those directly affected were “frightened and angry”.

“He talks about the Windrush getting the legal status they deserve, actually they were always British citizens…” she said.

She then pressed Mr Javid on what he would do in the job to “protect later cohorts of commonwealth citizens from the indignity and humiliation that the Windrush has had to suffer”.

Mr Javid said he too was “angry” about what had happened and reflected on how it could have been his own family, who moved to Britain from Pakistan, who were affected.

“This never should have been the case and I will do whatever it takes to put it right," he added.

“I myself am a second generation migrant. Like the Caribbean Windrush generation, my parents came from the Commonwealth in the 1960s. They too came to help rebuild this country and offer all that they had.”

Arriving at the Home Office this morning, Mr Javid said it was a "huge privilege" to become Home Secretary, adding: "The most urgent task I have is to help those British citizens who came from the Caribbean, the so-called Windrush generation, and make sure they are all treated with the decency and the fairness that they deserve.

“That's what people want to see and will be my most urgent task.”