Sajid Javid: Britain's First BAME Home Secretary Was Marked Out For The Top

Pundits have repeatedly singled him out as a man to watch.

Sajid Javid was marked for the very top as soon as he entered Parliament in 2010. The son of a Pakistani bus driver, he went on to become a multi-millionaire banker - the epitome of the Thatcherite ideology of pull-your-socks-up capitalist ambition.

Javid grew up in Bristol, living in two bedroom flat above a shop with his five brothers, and was the first of his family to go to university – studying economics and politics at Exeter.

After working in the City, most notably for Deutsche Bank, he entered politics in 2010. Elected as MP for Bromsgrove, he spent just two years on the backbenches before being promoted to the Treasury as a junior minister – seen as the first step on a path that would lead him to Downing Street.

Various pundits and commentators have repeatedly singled him out as a man to watch, something clearly not lost on Javid himself. Speaking at a Westminster press gallery lunch in February 2015, he joked: “I have today agreed to let my name go forward for the leadership … oops, wrong speech.”

After serving under the former Chancellor, George Osborne, in the Treasury for two years, Javid made it to the Cabinet table in April 2014 as Minister for Culture, Media and Sport.

Shuffled to the Business Department after David Cameron’s 2015 election victory, he showed loyalty to the Prime Minister and Chancellor by backing Remain in the EU referendum. But painted by many colleagues as a Eurosceptic, his decision to fall in line with Downing Street dented his reputation with many of his previous supporters.

When it came to replacing Cameron as PM after the shock win for Leave in the referendum, Javid did not, after all, put his name forward for the leadership, and instead backed Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb on what was painted as a “modernising” ticket, with Javid being the Chancellor-in-waiting. Crabb finished second bottom on the first ballot, and pulled out of the race.

Theresa May moved Javid to the Communities and Local Government brief after becoming Prime Minister, and it was in this role that he became more outspoken than before.

He tried to bounce Chancellor Philip Hammond into borrowing £50bn to fund a house building boom ahead of the 2017 Autumn Budget, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Following the Grenfell tragedy in June last year, he promised a root and branch review of social housing in the UK, and increasingly spoke about his own background.

Speaking to National Housing Federation Conference in 2017, he said:

“I grew up on Stapleton Road in Bristol – also known as ‘Britain’s most dangerous street’ or a ‘moral cesspit’, depending on your tabloid of choice.

I remember my school careers adviser telling me that there was no point in aiming high because kids from my neck of the woods simply didn’t take A-levels or go to university. Society had low expectations of us, and we were expected to live down to them.

It was the same years later, when I was applying for jobs with merchant banks in London. I got the sense that the interview panels had never before met someone who lived in the overcrowded flat above the family shop.”

Javid is the first Home Secretary from a (British English) black, Asian and minority ethnic background (BAME), and the first to come from a Muslim background.

Javid is not afraid to speak his mind on Twitter, blasting the US President Donald Trump for retweeting videos from the far-right group, Britain First. “So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing.”

Javid also took the fight fight to Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism in Labour, calling for a debate in the Commons earlier this month.

But the new Home Secretary is not without controversy. More than 10 months on from the devastating fire at Grenfell, and two thirds of families displaced by the blaze are yet to be permanently rehoused. Javid has also been criticised for not making more funds available to councils wishing to replace cladding on tower blocks in the wake of the blaze. By January, only 26 of the 299 buildings identified as unsafe had had the cladding removed.


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