Britain May appoints new minister to try to end immigration scandal
LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday appointed a former South Asian banker as Home Secretary, trying to end an immigration scandal threatening her authority as she negotiating Brexit.
Sajid Javid, son of Pakistani immigrants, replaces Amber Rudd, who resigned as Home Secretary after admitting she had “misled” Parliament by denying that the government had targets for numbers illegal migrants deported by Great Britain.
British ministers struggled for two weeks to explain why some descendants of the so-called ‘Windrush generation’, invited to Britain from its former colonies to fill labor shortages between 1948 and 1971, found themselves deny their fundamental rights.
But in trying to solve one problem, May risked creating another by shifting the balance of views within her best team on plans to leave the European Union. Rudd opposed Brexit, but Javid, a lukewarm “remnant”, said after the referendum, “in some ways we are all Brexiteers now”.
The scandal has weighed on May, who, after gaining support for harsh responses over Russia and Syria, has lost a close ally and must now try to overcome her Conservative Party’s divisions over Brexit, particularly over futures customs agreements with the European Union.
Javid, the first British black, Asian and minority lawmaker to become Home Secretary, distanced himself in Parliament from the “hostile environment” policy on illegal immigration pursued by May when she was Minister of the Interior.
“We’re going to have a strategy in place (…) to make sure that we have an immigration policy that is fair, that it treats people with respect and decency, and that will be one of my most important jobs. urgent, ”Javid told Sky News earlier Monday.
A spokesperson for May said Javid, who had served as Minister of Housing, Communities and Local Government, “has proven his drive, ambition and determination to tackle difficult issues, and those are abilities. which will all be required at the Ministry of the Interior. ”.
May is hoping Javid’s appointment deflects public anger over an issue which opposition Labor says is at least partly her fault, as she spent six years as Home Secretary .
Campaigning Monday, May defended the use of targets to fight illegal immigration and declined to respond directly when asked if she should take responsibility for what opposition lawmakers call a toxic culture. at the Ministry of the Interior.
While aimed at ending the scandal, Javid’s appointment may also signal a change on Brexit.
Rudd was one of the most openly pro-European members of May’s cabinet and could now join other Tory lawmakers voting to keep the closest possible ties to the bloc.
His position on May’s Brexit Committee, a ministerial sub-group balanced between those who supported staying in the EU and those who wanted to leave, will now go to Javid.
Its position is less clear. A fan of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he strongly supports free markets. Several pro-Brexit activists have said he is now firmly on their side and will oppose attempts to keep Britain so close to the EU.
This committee will meet this week to try to find a future customs arrangement with the EU that avoids a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland.
In the Irish border town of Dundalk, bloc’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said this would require rapid progress and a real risk remained that Britain would leave the bloc without a comprehensive deal on future relations .
There are more challenges ahead. The upper house of parliament on Monday defeated May’s government for the seventh time in two weeks by backing changes to the law that will end Britain’s EU membership in March next year.
The House of Lords voted to give Parliament the power to force the government back to the negotiating table, and even stop Britain’s departure, if lawmakers don’t think a final deal on Brexit is enough.
The proposals must be approved by both houses before they can become law, but could strain May’s slim working majority in the lower house next month.
Javid’s main job at the Home Office, or Home Office, won’t be easy either.
The department is one of the toughest to run, responsible for immigration, policing and security in a volatile era of public spending cuts, Islamist attacks and Brexit talks.
May was the oldest Home Secretary in decades before becoming prime minister, and some opposition figures accused her of crafting overly tough immigration policies.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labor party, again called on her to answer questions about her time in the Home Office, while “she was presiding, in her words, over the creation of a ‘hostile environment'”.
Rudd lasted less than two years, becoming the fourth minister May lost to scandals of the past six months.
After days of apologies, she wrote in her resignation letter that she should have known about the deportation targets, but added that the British “want people who have a right to live here to be treated as in a fair and humane manner, which sometimes was not the case. ”- a critique of her own ministry, and perhaps of May.
May is hopeful that Javid, known for his passion for detail when he was minister of affairs, can ease the pressure on the ministry.
But some doubted that he would soften the approach to immigration. “Sajid Javid is one of the Conservative Party’s most right-wing anti-immigration politicians,” said Dr Kehinde Andrews, associate professor at Birmingham City University who specializes in race issues.
“The fact that her skin is brown doesn’t change that at all.”
Additional reporting by Michael Holden, written by Elizabeth Piper; edited by Kevin Liffey