British PM picks new interior minister after resignation blow
April 30 2018 05:55 PM
Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid stands outside the Home Office after being named as Britain's Home Secretary, in London on Monday

AFP/London

British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a new interior minister on Monday charged with clearing up a scandal over moves to deport elderly legal immigrants that has rocked her government.
May named Sajid Javid to replace Amber Rudd, who quit the key ministerial post of home secretary late on Sunday for having misled lawmakers over deportation targets for illegal immigrants.
The government is facing anger over the so-called Windrush scandal -- wrongful moves to deport legal but undocumented elderly immigrants from the Caribbean.
A rapid riser in the government, Javid's first task will be to answer an urgent question in parliament as he tries to take the heat out of the situation.
"Making sure that we have an immigration policy that is fair, treats people with respect and with decency -- that will be one of my most urgent tasks," he told reporters.
Rudd told lawmakers last week that there were no targets for the removal of people deemed to be in the country illegally.
But she felt it "necessary" to tender her resignation after the emergence of documents, addressed to her office, showing those goals were in place.
"I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not," she said in her resignation letter to May, conceding that she "inadvertently misled" MPs.
Bus driver's son  
Javid is the son of a Pakistani bus driver who arrived in Britain in 1961 with one pound in his pocket.
Javid, 48, was a senior investment banker at Deutsche Bank before becoming a member of parliament in 2010.
He became a Treasury minister in 2013 and joined the Cabinet in 2014 as culture secretary before switching to business secretary in 2015 and communities secretary the following year.
He backed the losing Remain campaign in Britain's 2016 referendum on its European Union membership, but his pro-EU position was lukewarm.
Explaining the thinking behind Javid's appointment, May's spokesman said he was "one of the most experienced ministers" in Cabinet who had "proved his drive, his ambition and his determination to get to grips with difficult subjects".
Rudd was seen as a moderate on the EU and a balancing force in a cabinet containing several heavyweight pro-Brexit figures.
Rudd was the fifth person to quit the cabinet since the June 2017 snap general election, called by May but which cost the Conservatives their majority in parliament.
James Brokenshire, who stepped down as Northern Ireland secretary in January to undergo lung operation, returned to cabinet to replace Javid in the housing, communities and local government brief.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt adds to her duties Rudd's other brief as minister for women and equalities.
Rudd had run the Home Office interior ministry since July 2016.
Clampdown
Immigration control remains a hot topic in Britain and was a factor in the June 2016 vote to leave the EU.
May on Monday defended targets for the removal of illegal immigrants.
"If you talk to members of the public they want to ensure that we are dealing with people who are here illegally," she said.
A government clampdown on illegal immigration has begun to identify those without papers, scooping up many elderly people from the Windrush generation -- named after the ship that brought the first group of migrants from the West Indies in 1948.
Invited to Britain to help it rebuild after World War II, they were given a legal right to remain by a 1971 law.
However, many never formalised their status, often because they were children who came over on their parents' passports and then never applied for their own.
Some have lost jobs and fallen into debt as they struggled to prove their status.
The main opposition Labour party turned its fire on May.
Leader Jeremy Corbyn said Rudd had been the "human shield" for May, who "now has questions to answer".
"She was presiding over, in her terms, the creation of a hostile environment," towards illegal immigration, he said.
Labour's foreign affairs spokeswoman Emily Thornberry told AFP on a visit to Ramallah: "If we are looking for who is culpable it isn't just Amber Rudd -- obviously it is her leader as well."
May's centre-right Conservative Party faces potentially bruising local authority elections across England on Thursday.
On Rudd's resignation, Conservative MP Paul Scully told AFP: "Anything that happens here that's negative affects local elections -- good things, less so! It will undoubtedly play on some people's minds." 



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