Sajid Javid has been named as the new home secretary, in charge of the UK’s immigration, security and counter-terrorism efforts.
The new home secretary replaces Amber Rudd, who resigned last night after an embattled couple of weeks, where it emerged that Commonwealth immigrants from the Windrush generation were being deported.
Javid, 48, now becomes the first person from an ethnic minority to hold one of the Great Offices of State. He was born one of five sons to Pakistani immigrants in Lancashire, before the family moved to Bristol where his parents purchased a ladies-wear shop.
He was not necessarily the exemplary student throughout his time in Bristol, saying that “I was naughty, more interested in watching Grange Hill than homework.” But things changed when his dad read the riot act. “He said ‘this is what I went through, don’t let me down’. I felt really bad. My academic work rocketed.”
Even throughout school however, he had a keen interest in finance. At the age of 14 he arranged to see his father’s bank manager and arranged to borrow £500 to invest in shares, becoming a regular reader of the Financial Times. It was then that he set his sights upon working in the City.
Overcoming his school’s suggestions that would be unlikely to amount to much, Javid went to the University of Exeter, where he read in Economics and Politics.
Still determined to work in finance and take a job in the City, there were many obstacles along the way. Speaking about this recently, he said that:
“Some people, in a friendly way, tried to lower my expectations…They often tell you that unless you wear an old school tie or have the family contacts, you just won’t get a chance to work in the City. But they were wrong.”
But by the age of 25, this rising star had become a vice-president at Chase Manhattan Bank and he later moved to Singapore for a period with Deutsche Bank. He rose to become a managing director before leaving in the summer of 2009 to concentrate on a political career.
A Conservative Party supporter from the early-1980s he had attended his first conference towards the end of the Thatcher years, with Conservative friends from university such as fellow Tory MP Robert Halfon. He maintained a key interest in politics and then in 2010 was elected for the first time into the House of Commons.
He rose quickly through the ranks, beginning his ministerial career with roles in the Treasury, before becoming the culture, media and sport secretary in 2014. He then moved to become the business secretary for a year before another shift took him to the communities and local government portfolio.
Long thought of as a Eurosceptic, it was a surprise to many when Mr Javid came out for Remain during the UK’s 2016 referendum on whether or not to stay in the European Union. But he has never been afraid to ruffle feathers within the party, especially when it came to some uncompromising messages to some in the business community and local government.
But his cabinet career has been marked by cool, calm and resourceful determination. He’s faced the political hot-seat before and managed to weather the storms. This was particularly felt when he was business secretary and he faced questions over Tata steel, and as communities secretary over the response to the Grenfell disaster.
He will need to be prepared to weather a few more storms as he heads into the home office. He will have a bulging in-tray and will need to have to pick up the Windrush generation issues quickly and sensitively. Although he has already cited his parents immigrant status as a reason why he is empathetic to the plights on the Windrush generation, he will need to examine the current policy very carefully and remain on top of his brief.