By Sir Philip Rutnam

02 Jan 2019

With the end of 2018 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2019 – and tell us who they’d choose to turn on their town’s Christmas lights. The links on this list will go live as the articles are published in the run up to 2019.

What was your highlight of 2018?

The Novichok attack in Salisbury cast a dark shadow over the year, but the swift and effective response by Home Office officials, the emergency services, and our partners across government served as a beacon of light. I am immensely proud of their professionalism, resilience and dedication to keeping the British public safe amidst the most severe of circumstances. Together, we have sent a clear message to those who would disregard international norms and threaten our nation’s security.

What was the hardest part of being a leader in 2018?

Windrush exposed a number of significant issues and rightly brought the Home Office under intense scrutiny. There have been some tough realisations for the department, with implications for staff morale. Nevertheless, I am pleased to say the Home Office demonstrated great professionalism in serving the public as we responded, through the work of our taskforce. We are undertaking extensive work to put things right for those affected by Windrush and, crucially, to capture the lessons to be learned to ensure the same mistakes are never repeated.

What are the main challenges facing your department in the coming year?

As you might expect, it’s all hands to the pump to deliver on our preparations for Brexit. Over the coming year, a huge part of this will concern our plans for the future immigration system. We will also be implementing the government’s recently announced serious and organised crime strategy, and continuing to deliver excellence in the realm of counter-terrorism and national security.

Which celebrity or historical figure would you choose to turn on the Christmas lights in your town, and why?

I’ll go for a famous former home secretary – Winston Churchill.

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