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Top Three Challenges for Sajid Javid as new Home Secretary

by Vernon Hunte

Top Three Challenges for Sajid Javid as new Home Secretary

Sajid Javid has been appointed to replace Amber Rudd as Home Secretary. Here are three of the most pressing challenges for the new Minister to get to grips with.

Photo by Jordhan Madec on Unsplash

  1. Steady the Department – John Reid, then Home Secretary famously said that the Home Office’s immigration system was ‘not fit for purpose’ in 2006 and many will be wondering if the department is irremediably dysfunctional when it comes to migration. Ministers claiming ignorance of targets they know of (‘inadvertently’ or not) and officials leaking documents are concerning. At the same time, the Prime Minister remains committed to a migration policy which, far from showing signs of success, continues to feed a series of unfortunate incidents for the Conservative Party in Government. Departmental morale will be low. The question for the incoming Home Secretary will be whether to demonstrate distance (and some fresh thinking) from the Prime Minister’s immigration and home affairs legacy, or to try to fix the same old policy problems (reducing net migration to below 100,000) with the sticking-plaster approach (setting targets and pursuing them at high cost) which failed Amber Rudd. But restoring some pride and belief to a battered Department is top of the list.
  1. Security, security, security –Keeping the public safe is the fundamental responsibility of the Home Office, only one year ago the UK was being rocked by a succession of terror attacks. Today allegations of Russian chemical poisoning on the streets of Salisbury, increasing risk of cyber-attacks others and worrying statistics on knife crime and acid attacks dominate the news agenda. Relations between Conservative Ministers and the police force are seen to be fractious. Any serious national security event could make an already enfeebled Government look dangerously useless (there is a parallel with former French President Hollande here) if the Home Office appears unprepared and unable to react strongly.
  1. Ensure the Home Office issues are well represented in Brexit negotiations – Rudd was the leading Remainer of the Cabinet, and her departure disturbs a precarious balance in Cabinet for the Prime Minister. Aside from political considerations, the Home Office is dealing with some of the most sensitive and complex issues to be considered in the UK-EU Brexit settlement. The Northern Irish border and port security, ensuring European counter-terrorism co-operation does not suffer and ensuring dealing challenge of managing the status of 3 million + EU citizens currently based in the UK (Brussels will be seeking further reassurance after seeing how UK Government failed to protect legacy guarantees such as those given to the Windrush generation). The Home Office voice must be heard when Brexit is discussed at Cabinet.

Can the Home Office get fit through tech solutions?  – Responsibility for any incoming Home Secretary weighs heavily on all, but with expectations low there is opportunity here to demonstrate progress quickly. Especially if the new Minister can get the Department on the front foot with new tools available, such as improved analytics and AI solutions, to restore one of the great departments of state for today’s challenges.

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