Sajid Javid dismisses Boris Johnson as ‘yesterday’s news’ as he launches bid for Tory leadership

Home secretary denies Tory party is dogged by Islamophobia – as he pitches himself as the ‘outsider’ candidate who can reach lost voters

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 13 June 2019 07:46
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Sajid Javid has denied the Conservative Party is dogged by Islamophobia, as he launched his leadership campaign by branding Boris Johnson “yesterday’s news”.

The home secretary made his pitch as the “outsider” candidate who would appeal to younger voters, and those from ethnic minorities, who shun the Tories.

He insisted he had a “credible plan” to deliver Brexit in time for a departure on 31 October – arguing his experience as an international bond trader gave him the edge in striking huge deals.

And he turned on the strong favourite in the race for No 10, saying: “I’m a change candidate. Boris Johnson is yesterday’s news. He’s been around in politics for a while.”

This week, a parliamentary inquiry heard evidence of “fundamental failures” in tackling Islamophobia within Tory ranks, with “hundreds of cases” documented.

But asked if there was “a problem”, Mr Javid said: “I wouldn’t say, from what I’ve seen and my own experience and from what I know, there is a real, particular issue in the Conservative Party with hate crime.”

The home secretary argued his party stamped on any examples of Islamophobia that do exist in Tory ranks, telling his audience: “That’s what always happens.”

That claim is strongly disputed by Britain’s largest Muslim organisation, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which has urged the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigate a 20-strong dossier of evidence.

This week, the MCB told a committee of MPs: “We have seen unequivocal failures, specifically the Conservative Party, when it comes to Islamophobia. Not just small failures, fundamental failures in every single way.”

Mr Javid said: “I would be very happy for someone externally – an organisation – to come and take a look, as well and try to give some formal reassurance, because I think we have got nothing to hide.”

Setting out his manifesto, Mr Javid:

* Argued he could deliver “world class public services and low taxes”, while also being “fiscally responsible”.

* Defended depriving Isis bride Shamima Begum of her citizenship – arguing the public expected him to “do whatever I can to protect the citizens of this country”.

* Declined to say whether someone who had used “class A drugs” would have a job in his cabinet – saying Michael Gove was “big enough to defend himself”.

* Said he had realised police cuts “had gone too far” before becoming home secretary – as he pledged an extra 20,000 beat officers.

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On Brexit, Mr Javid argued he could convince the EU to renegotiate the Irish backstop – something it has insisted it will not do – because of his experience as a banker.

“I built a reputation of doing many multi, multibillion-dollar deals, including some of the largest financing and bond transactions the world had ever seen,” he said.

“And they weren’t easy. They weren’t straightforward. They were all involving negotiation, involving competition to win the deals.”

He added: “I think I’m in a very good position to get a good Brexit deal for the United Kingdom.”

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