POLITICS
03/12/2018 09:49 GMT

Home Secretary Sajid Javid Reveals He Was 'Punched To The Ground' As A Schoolboy In Racist Attack

Asian minister was attacked aged 11 in incident "very similar" to that suffered by Syrian refugee.

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Home Secretary Sajid Javid 

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed he was punched to ground and racially abused when he was an 11-year-old schoolboy. 

The minister said the playground incident was “very, very similar” to the attack suffered by a Syrian refugee which went viral on social media last month. 

The 15-year-old was filmed being pushed to the ground and having water poured on his face by another school pupil in Huddersfield. 

Javid told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday: “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 myself when I was 11 at school. 

“That’s the immediate memories that came back for me. Obviously I hated it and I thought how that young boy must feel.” 

Rochdale-born Javid, whose parents emigrated to the UK from Pakistan, said the “just unavoidable” incident took place at a British comprehensive and said “because I was Asian I was punched to the ground”. 

He told presenter Nick Robinson that his attackers used racist language and that “those memories flooded back for me” when he saw the Syrian boy attack. 

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Almondbury Community School, in Huddersfield, where the Syrian refugee boy was attacked 

Javid said he had invited the boy and his family to have a cup of tea with him when the investigation into the incident has concluded. 

Asked what he thought the attack said about the UK in 2018, Javid, who is one of the frontrunners to replace Theresa May should she stand down as PM, replied: “Part of me was [thinking] how can this kind of thing still be going on in our country and I really felt for the young Syrian boy that was involved. 

“A couple of days later I went to see some Syrian refugee families in Coventry who have entered the UK and we have rightly provided sanctuary to. 

“I just wanted to connect with them and understand what they are going through. 

“That particular young boy, I have also written to him, a personal note, but when the investigation is over I’d like him to come and see me with his family and just have a cup of tea or something.” 

Javid said “so many people were outraged and cared”, adding: “To me that says something really important about our values as people, our sense of fairness and that’s what’s heartwarming that that is how British people react.” 

West Yorkshire Police said a 16-year-old boy has been interviewed over the attack at Almondbury Community School, and reported for summons for an offence of assault ahead of a youth court appearance.

‘Unlikely’ post-Brexit immigration plan published before vote

As part of the interview, Javid also revealed legislation setting out the UK’s post-Brexit immigration plans would not be brought before Parliament before MPs are expected to vote on the prime minister’s withdrawal plans. 

He said: “If you are referring to the actual white paper itself, it is unlikely, actually very unlikely to be published before the vote itself.” 

The paper was promised two years ago, Robinson reminded Javid, who took the role after Amber Rudd stood down over the Windrush scandal in April. 

“This is the biggest change in our immigration system in over four decades, the most significant change we are going to see in immigration as we take control of our immigration system, so it is important we work on the details.” 

Responding to concerns from business and industry, including from the CBI that firms will be starved of much-needed migrant workers, Javid said “they don’t know” what is yet being proposed. 

He said: “These are discussions happening inside government and the last time I looked at the cabinet table I didn’t see the CBI sitting around it.” 

The home secretary also insisted the Brexit deal was the “right deal for the country”, and dismissed reports that the vote will be pulled.

He said: “I don’t think there is any chance of pulling the vote... I just don’t see that happening.”

Amid concern that police forces were buckling under the burden of austerity, Javid also hinted they would be handed “more resources” as well as new powers set out in the offensive weapons bill.