Sajid Javid has been appointed as the new home secretary in the wake of the dramatic resignation of Amber Rudd, Downing Street has announced.
The former housing secretary – who this weekend issued an impassioned plea for Tory voters not to abandon the party over the Windrush scandal – has been appointed to the role following Rudd's resignation for “inadvertently misleading” MPs over the Home Office's use of deportation targets.
Rudd's decision to quit came just hours after it emerged she had told Theresa May she had "ambitious but deliverable" targets for removing illegal immigrants.
In a statement No 10 said: “The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP as Secretary of State for the Home Department.”
He is the first BAME (black, Asian or minority ethnic) politician to be given the job.
Rudd told the Home Affairs Select Committee last week the department did not have targets for deportation of illegal immigrants, contrary to evidence given earlier to the committee by the general secretary of the immigration workers’ union the ISU. Rudd later told Parliament that the Home Office did use local targets for internal performance management, but that she had been unaware of them.
She resigned following a series of Home Office leaks to the Guardian, which revealed that information had been provided to her office about the targets.
In her resignation letter to May she said: “Since appearing before the select committee, I have reviewed the advice I was given on this issue and become aware of information provided to my office which makes mention of targets. I should have been aware of this, and I take full responsibility for the fact that I was not.”
David Lammy, a Labour MP and prominent campaigner throughout the Windrush scandal, tweeted: “Amber Rudd resigned because she didn't know what was going on in her own department and she had clearly lost the confidence of her own civil servants. The real issue is the hostile environment policy that caused this crisis in the first place.”
The issue of removals targets was raised as part of the Home Affairs Committee’s inquiry into the Windrush children, who came to the UK legally in the 1950s and 1960s but have since been threatened with deportation or denied access to public services because of uncertainty about their immigration status.
Rudd's departure from the government is a massive blow to May, who was her immediate predecessor in the Home Office. The prime minister today said that deportation targets were in place while she was home secretary.
Having been a strong supporter of Remain in the EU referendum, she could now become a powerful voice on the Tory backbenches for a soft Brexit.
Javid – who backed the Remain campaign, but has since said his “heart” was for Brexit and spoken out against customs union membership – will immediately be tasked with sorting out the Windrush scandal, ensuring that migrants are able to obtain their UK citizenship as well as establishing a compensation scheme for those who have been affected.
In an interview with Sky News he said: “My first priority is to make sure the Home Office does all it can to keep British people safe. That is a huge responsibility, something I take very, very seriously.”
He also said: “The most urgent task I have is to help those British citizens who came from the Caribbean, the so-called Windrush generation, and make sure they are all treated with the decency and fairness they deserve.”
He said he would be looking at Home Office immigration policy to make sure it is fair.
Javid has previously headed up the business and culture departments.
James Brokenshire – who stepped back from his role as Northern Ireland secretary while he received treatment for cancer – will replace Javid at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, while international development secretary Penny Mordaunt will take on the women and equalities brief vacated by Rudd.
Brokenshire served as immigration minister when May was home secretary.
Home Office permanent secretary Philip Rutnam welcomed Javid to the role.
Melanie Dawes, MHCLG permanent secretary, on Twitter welcomed the new secretary of state to the department, and said it had been a pleasure to work with Javid.
Javid's appointment was applauded by his Conservative colleagues, with chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss praising him as "effective, no-nonsense and brave", while former minister Nick Boles said he was "proud to be a colleague" of the UK's first home secretary from a Muslim background.