I was pleased to see the promotion of my good friend Sajid Javid to Home secretary this week.
First, he is a major talent and will bring his sharp intellect and extraordinary work ethic to a very demanding cabinet position. We want our best people in the top jobs and Sajid is definitely one of our brightest and best. Being Home Secretary is a very challenging responsibility and he is up to it. He will still be robust on illegal immigration, which challenges all European countries, but no-one can accuse him of insensitivity in carrying out his vital duties.
Second, it will be a great encouragement to many people who have made their way to these shores (legitimately) in recent years that, if they are prepared to knuckle down and embrace the opportunities that the UK provides, the sky is the limit. In our south west region, we often miss the significant contribution that people whose parents or grandparents hail from Asia or Africa or the Commonwealth can make to our country. Worse than that, because many of us whose roots are in the West Country do not ordinarily mix with people from different ethnicities, we can be the most unwelcoming of all. I’m not entirely sure why.
Over the past five years I have received more letters and e-mails about immigration than any other subject – yet the ethnic minority make up in the constituency is less than 0.5%. We have no real experience of immigration in this region. People are responding to their fears rather than their actual experience. Where there is a more cosmopolitan experience attitudes towards people who are different tend to be much more mature. It is good to see people from minority backgrounds rising above this barrier and becoming role models for others. We have to accept that our country is changing (as it always has) (and as is every developed country in the world) and embrace it with enthusiasm.
Finally, Sajid is a great bloke. He is a Muslim who has always been very supportive of the work we carry on in the All Party Group Christians in Parliament which I chair. He is married to a lovely Christian lady, Laura, and they have the most gorgeous looking children.
It is wonderful to see friends progress in their careers. Westminster usually finds people out. The House is discovering that Sajid Javid is out of the top-drawer and has further to go.