Pakistani-origin Sajid Javid appointed UK finance minister

With a hard Brexit looming after Boris Johnson reaffirms his commitment to exiting the European Union by 31st October later this year, Sajid Javid has been handed over control of the “Brexit economy”.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

News Desk |

Previously serving as the Home Secretary in Theresa May’s cabinet, the Pakistani-origin Briton Sajid Javid is no stranger to sensitive posts or controversies as he is again charged with a crucial responsibility.

Untangling the deeply interconnected economic frameworks of the UK and the EU is a monumental task, and the hardships do not end there. The new finance minister will also have a central role in determining the nature of the new economic relationship that the UK has with the EU in the event of Brexit materializing.

Read more: How Sajid Javid beat racism to become minister in-charge of Brexit

Last year, 46% of all UK exports and 54% of all UK imports were from the EU. The EU is also a crucial market for the UK’s services sector comprising 40% of all exports, with a focus on financial and legal services. Additionally, the EU market gives British companies some of the lowest tariffs in the world. Needless to say, this is an indispensable relationship for the UK as almost half of its economy depends on it.

The appointment generated a heated debate on social media. Many congratulated him, but his relationship with the Pakistani diaspora in Britain and with Pakistani public opinion is not as rosy as someone like Sadiq Khan’s. As someone who has passed negative comments about refugees and questioned whether those risking their lives to come in from Syria are “genuine” in their need, he has drawn flak from the liberals, British-Pakistanis and British Muslims at large. He also voted against a bill allowing 3000 unaccompanied Syrian refugee children to enter Britain as part of their previously agreed upon uptake of Syrian refugees.

Opposition MPs allege that in his role at the Deutsche Bank, he was part of the cabal of individuals who fuelled the 2007-2009 economic crisis.

Someone of Javid’s origins engaging in such exclusionary rhetoric grants it an ominous legitimacy for some and is proof of a lack of integrity for others. He is often accused of pandering to political circles that are antithetical to his own existence in politics; there have been strong movements within the conservative party and amongst supporters online to exclude Javid from the cabinet on grounds of his ethnicity and religion.

Pakistani social media also wondered aloud whether it was a time of pride for them that a Pakistani-origin politician of a humble background had made it so far in British politics. Most were promptly reminded that this was the same man who The Jewish Chronicle reported as stating that “if he had to leave Britain to live in the Middle East, then he would choose Israel as home. Only there, he said, would his children feel the “warm embrace of freedom and liberty.” Such comments were met with much dismay by the British Muslims, and many of his constituents have not forgotten about them.

Another vehement objection that came from across the entire political spectrum to this appointment was to do with Javid’s alleged involvement in a multi-million-pound tax avoidance scheme. Opposition MPs allege that in his role at the Deutsche Bank, he was part of the cabal of individuals who fuelled the 2007-2009 economic crisis.

Read more: Donald Trump ridiculed after attempting to malign London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan

This has led many to question his motivations and interests in handling such an important position in such a trying time. In any case, his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) is bound to be the beginning of a road fraught with tough economic and political challenges.