Sajid Javid has only been Home Secretary for seven hours but already he appears to have settled into the role with gusto. In his first appearance at the despatch box as Home Secrtary, Javid was greeted with cheers from the Tory benches before warning Diane Abbott – his opposite number – that she did not have a ‘monopoly’ on anger over the Windrush debacle.
Javid also made sure to put some clear blue water between himself and his predecessor’s predecessor – one Theresa May. Asked by Labour’s Stephen Doughty whether about the net deportations target, Javid said he was not currently aware of any cases of wrongful deportation – before adding that he will not be using the term ‘hostile environment’ as it does ‘not represent our values’. Instead Javid will make it his aim to create a ‘compliant environment’.
Now, this is not the first time this phrase has been used in favour of ‘hostile environment’ – Javid’s predecessor Amber Rudd favoured the term, with then immigration minister Brandon Lewis the man credited for first using ‘compliant environment’. What marks Javid out is that where Rudd and co would have used the term quietly, he wants to make it clear he is using a different term to May.
The comments will be music to the ears of Javid’s pro-immigration Tory colleagues who hope he is the person to relax the Home Office and insert more liberal policies. It’s notable that the most punchy question of the whole session came from the Conservative benches. Nick Boles – a man who doesn’t lose sleep over making his criticisms of May well known – urged Javid to ‘put his own stamp on [Home Office] policy’ even if that means ‘retiring some legacy policies’. His reply? ‘Every department that I’ve worked in I’ve almost certainly put on my own stamp.’ It seems Javid is already at pains to avoid the same fate as Rudd.