Amber Rudd had to go. Wherever you can rightfully apportion blame here – and May, as usual, deserves quite a lot – Rudd telling parliament there were no deportation targets, later proven not only to be false but that Rudd had knowledge of them when she spoke to parliament meant she could not stay in post, even in this ridiculous political era we are experiencing when people can remain in the cabinet after pulling stunts that would never have been tolerated in any previous government.
I was slightly worried that May would appoint someone as Home Secretary on one of her weird whims. I was seriously concerned that Jacob Rees-Mogg might be moving into Marsham Street, or at least, I couldn’t entirely dismiss the idea. Javid, meanwhile, was the only logical choice, so kudos to May. He has the experience to hold the post combined with the fact that he is one of the few Tories to have understood what the right tone to set in wake of Windrush was, and didn’t sound like he was spinning mercilessly whilst talking about the scandal. Being the son of immigrants obviously doesn’t hurt either, given the still burning problem the Tories are having around the issue.
The question is, will anything be different under Javid? I had misplaced high hopes for Rudd as Home Secretary, so I’m a little weary here. I will once again, perhaps foolishly, strike a note of optimism, if a little more cautiously than I did upon Rudd’s ascendance. The issues that led to the Windrush scandal are genuinely close to Javid’s heart, and as a result he might be bolder in resisting May’s spreadsheet approach when it comes to the immigration issue.
Having said all of that, the Tories are still left with the same basic problem they have always had on immigration since coming into government in 2010. They can either devise a way to make the immigration system truly stricter in terms of who is allowed into the country in the first place, and given we seem almost certainly headed for something close to freedom of movement with the EU post-Brexit – who have always had Britain over a barrel on this, since the NHS would struggle massively to handle all of the pensioners having to come back to Britain, to say nothing of the additional housing problem this would create – this will mean cutting immigration from countries outside the EU. This never happens, by the way, since the whole way the economy is set up requires ever more immigrants to come into the country to keep the weird, lopsided economy running. The Tories haven’t been honest about that yet, and I doubt highly that they will in future; the political cost is too potentially steep. Sajid Javid has his work cut out for him then. He can take one note of comfort: Theresa May managed to not only last in the job for six years, but leave the Home Office for Number 10.