UK's 1st Muslim Home Secretary, Health Minister Amid COVID: Who Is Sajid Javid?

Javid turning in a scathing resignation letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 5 July.

3 min read
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Edited By :Tejas Harad

Erstwhile Health Secretary Sajid Javid exited the British Cabinet on Tuesday, 5 July, turning in a scathing resignation letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Expressing that his decision is accompanied with enormous regret, the former top cabinet minster asserted that the prime minister had lost his confidence.

"The tone you set as a leader, and the values you represent, reflect on your colleagues, your party and ultimately the country. Conservatives at their best are seen as hard-headed decision-makers, guided by strong values. We may not have always been popular, but we have been competent in acting in the national interest. Sadly, in the current circumstances, the public are concluding that we are now neither," Javid wrote, serving a significant blow to Johnson's authority.

The ex senior cabinet minister's move has propelled a series of resignations from the UK administration, with Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice Victoria Atkins and Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Department of Business, Felicity Buchan being the latest in the growing list of leaders to have announced their exits.

But who is Sajid Javid? And what do we know about him?


A Second Generation Immigrant and a Series of Important Portfolios

A four-time Conservative party MP from Bromsgrove, Javid is a second-generation migrant belonging to a Pakistani family.

The 51-year-old, who was formerly working as an investment banker, has had a political career spanning over a decade now, and held non-domiciled status in the UK before becoming an MP in 2010.

“For some of those years I was non-domiciled for tax purposes, but I paid all UK taxes due on my income and have always done so," Javid later told The Sunday Times.

In 2012, Javid was elected minister, and held business, culture, and home office portfolios in the UK government in consequent years.

His appointment as the home secretary during Theresa May's tenure was made significant amidst the so-called Windrush controversy, which shed light on the unfair treatment of Commonwealth citizens from Jamaica over a lack of citizenship documentation.

“I was really concerned when I first started hearing and reading about some of the issues. It immediately impacted me... My parents came to this country... just like the Windrush generation,” Javid wrote in The Sunday Telegraph.

He was also the first Muslim home secretary of the country.

The ex cabinet minister was made the chancellor in 2019, a year before assuming his post as the health secretary amidst the COVID-19 health emergency.


COVID-19, Men's Mental Health, and Suicide Prevention

As Javid took on his role as the health secretary, the British Medical Association indicated in a statement that he had inherited “probably the most daunting in-tray" awaiting any secretary of state for health.

The leader took the top health position a day before the NHS was set to scrap the remaining COVID-19 restrictions in the country, and indicated that resumption of usual health services and modernisation were on his agenda.

However, after the Omicron wave brought back COVID-19 at the forefront of healthcare, Javid oversaw UK's national booster immunisation drive.

In March 2022, in a major address to the country as a health secretary, he laid down his priorities - the four Ps – prevention, personalisation, performance, and people.

The 52-year-old also stressed on the importance of men's mental health and suicide prevention during his time in office, a mission that was ostensibly deeply personal to him, after his brother died by suicide in 2018.

"We must treat suicides with the same urgency that we treat any other major killer... I’m determined to make a difference on this issue, and one of the ways we’ll do this is by publishing a new 10-year suicide prevention plan," Javid was quoted as saying in London, in June 2022.


(With inputs by The Guardian and PTI.)

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