Sajid Javid – who has hopes of becoming Tory leader – battles through chastening fortnight including Gatwick drone fiasco and a migrant crisis
- First came the closure of Gatwick airport following a series of drone sightings
- Now he has had to abandon a luxury family holiday after an attack from MPs
- Allies of Mrs May complain that Mr Javid has ‘taken his eye off the ball’
- Mr Javid angrily rejects the claim saying he was ‘working tirelessly and urgently’
For an ambitious politician hoping to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister, the past fortnight has been a chastening experience for Sajid Javid.
First came the debacle of the closure of Gatwick airport following a series of drone sightings and the arrest of an innocent couple.
Now he has had to abandon a luxury family holiday to return to London after his own MPs attacked his department’s ‘Dad’s Army’ handling of the migrant crisis.
The latest storm has led to anger in Downing Street, where allies of Mrs May complain that Mr Javid has ‘taken his eye off the ball’ and is failing to ‘horizon scan’ because he is so preoccupied by his leadership scheming.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has battled through a chastening fortnight including Gatwick drone fiasco and a migrant crisis
Mr Javid angrily rejects this claim, telling The Mail on Sunday last night that he was ‘working tirelessly and urgently’ on the migrant crisis.
He said: ‘There is no simple, single solution to the problem – which is why we are taking an international as well as a domestic approach.’
But the problem has been building up for a number of months.
Borders watchdog David Bolt warned in a highly critical report in the autumn that the number of clandestine migrants arriving in south coast ports had doubled in a year, and that ‘stretched’ Border Force guards were failing to keep harbours and marinas secure.
First came the debacle of the closure of Gatwick airport following a series of drone sightings and the arrest of an innocent couple
It was around then that first reports started to emerge of a new wave of migrants crossing the Channel in fishing boats and dinghies.
The Home Secretary told MPs in late November that 100 migrants had risked their lives trying to reach the UK coast in three months, but he did not want to deploy a Border Force cutter to the area in case it encouraged more people to make the journey.
He claimed at the time that he had called a cross-department meeting and was working with the French authorities, but many will now consider that was not enough as the crossings have increased in number since then.
In the eight months since Mr Javid took over at the Home Office he has repeatedly strayed from the line taken by Mrs May and her loyal successor Amber Rudd when they had the job – angering Downing Street in the process.
One of his first speeches was to the Police Federation ‘union’ where he made light of Mrs May’s repeated clashes with them, promising to undo many of her reforms and win forces more money from the Treasury.
Now he has had to abandon a luxury family holiday to return to London after his own MPs attacked his department’s ‘Dad’s Army’ handling of the migrant crisis
This led to a long-running row with Chancellor Philip Hammond over police funding that ended with the announcement that the vast majority of the extra cash would have to come from higher council tax bills rather than Government coffers.
Mr Javid has also clashed with Cabinet colleagues over immigration rules after Brexit, leading to the crucial White Paper being delayed for months.
Even as it was finally published just before Christmas, Mr Javid declined to reiterate the Prime Minister’s long-standing vow to reduce net migration – population growth due to new arrivals – to the ‘tens of thousands’. And he said there would be further discussions on the minimum salary threshold for skilled EU workers arriving in the UK, despite the Prime Minister’s desire to set it at £30,000.
Even Mr Javid’s return from holiday was not enough to mollify some of Mrs May’s allies.
One supporter pointed out last night that Mrs May had been ‘much swifter’ to return from her holidays in 2011 and 2012, cutting short Alpine walking breaks during the London riots and when two female police officers were shot dead in Manchester.