UK’s Sajid Javid reviewing PM May’s ‘hostile environment’ for migrants
The term “hostile environment” refers to a set of controversial policies that make it difficult for illegal migrants in the country to open bank accounts, rent housing, obtain driving licences and access medical care.Updated: Jun 03, 2018 20:17 IST
Britain’s new home secretary Sajid Javid on Sunday confirmed he is reviewing aspects of the “hostile environment” policy put in place by Prime Minister Theresa May, when she was holding his portfolio in the David Cameron government.
The term “hostile environment” refers to a set of controversial policies that make it difficult for illegal migrants in the country to open bank accounts, rent housing, obtain driving licences and access medical care. It has been part of objectives by successive Conservative governments to reduce migration.
Javid’s review includes taking a fresh look at dropping Indian and other non-EU students from net migration figures, a major demand of his cabinet colleagues as well as stakeholders since it sent a message that the students are unwelcome in Britain.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on BBC, Javid — the first Muslim and Asian-origin person to be named Britain’s home secretary — said he was also reviewing the issue of Indian and other non-EU doctors being denied visas to take up jobs in the National Health Service because the monthly quota of work visas had been hit in recent months.
The annual cap of 20,700 work visas for skilled professionals with job offers in Britain is allocated every month. Besides doctors, IT specialists and engineers have also been denied visas in recent months, causing much ennui in various sectors.
Javid said: “I see the problem with that. It is something that I’m taking a fresh look at. I know a number of my colleagues certainly want me to take a look at this, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. And I hope to think about this more carefully and see what can be done.”
May has repeatedly resisted dropping non-EU students from net migration figures, but Javid said he understood the criticism of the policy, adding that he did “empathise” with the view that it did not sound very welcoming. There has been a major drop in the number of Indian students coming to the UK since 2010.
He said: “There is a perception problem around this. It’s something I’ve long considered.” He said would look at it again but the issue was not at the top of his priority list, which was preoccupied with the Windrush controversy and security issues.
Javid also answered his critics over his refusal to recognise the umbrella organisation Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) as a true representative of the British Muslim community. The MCB had last week asked the ruling Conservatives to tackle “Islamophobia” in the party.
Javid said: “As you just described me, I am Sajid Javid, I am the home secretary in this country...The MCB does not represent Muslims in this country. You find me a group of Muslims that are represented by the MCB.”
Soon after the television interview, his remarks on the MCB’s standing in the community prompted strong criticism on social media.