Sajid Javid on why growing up in Bristol put him off ever taking drugs

sajid javid on why growing up in bristol put him off ever taking drugs - Sajid Javid on why growing up in Bristol put him off ever taking drugs

Growing up in Stapleton Road and watching the “centre of the local drugs trade” happening around his family home was enough to put Home Secretary Sajid Javid off ever taking drugs, he has revealed.

The Tory leadership contest has been dogged by questions of drug taking after it was revealed that candidate Michael Gove had taken cocaine while working as a journalist.

Fellow rival Rory Stewart admitted to smoking opium while in travelling in Iran and Dominic Raab confirmed he smoked marijuana at university. Bookies favourite Boris Johnson has so far evaded answering questions about any past drugs use.

But Mr Javid told a hustings in front of Westminster journalists that he had not taken drugs in his life and put it down to his time growing up in a two-bedroom flat above his parents’ shop in Stapleton Road in the north-east of Bristol with his four brothers.

Asked whether he supported introducing drug consumption rooms in a bid to tackle drug deaths – a policy Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire has pushed for previously – Mr Javid said his upbringing made him “hesitant” about any proposal that “might increase drug usage”.

Drug consumption rooms would provide safe places for addicts to consume their substances and use clean needles that have been supplied by health workers, without the fear of arrest.

Mr Javid said: “Call me the odd one out in this contest but I didn’t take any drugs and part of the reason is I grew up on a street in Bristol that became the centre of the local drugs trade.

“When I walked out of my door everyday – when I walked back from school or at the weekend to see family or friends – I saw the impact of drugs growing up. That’s what put me off drugs and I think that’s probably true of most of the population.

sajid javid on why growing up in bristol put him off ever taking drugs 2 - Sajid Javid on why growing up in Bristol put him off ever taking drugs

Sajid Javid featured in the live television debate on Channel 4 for the candidates for leadership of the Conservative party on Sunday June 1 (Image: Tim Anderson/Channel 4/PA Wire)

“I would be very hesitant to do anything that might increase drug usage. Anything I do tends to be designed to get people completely off drugs because they are a huge cancer on our society.”

It is not the first time Mr Javid has played on his tough upbringing to boost his leadership credentials. In a speech he made soon after being promoted to Home Secretary, he said had grown up on what “one tabloid dubbed Britain’s most dangerous street“.

He added: “It’s not so difficult to see how, instead of being in the cabinet, I could have actually turned out to have a life of crime myself.”

 

But traders on the street branded his comments “bulls**t” and said the community had changed since he grew up in the area in the 1970s and 80s.

Clare Mobley, a florist who has worked on the road since the mid-1990s, told The Guardian: “The place has moved on.”

Jason Summerhill, whose family has run a newsagent’s on the road for 35 years, told the newspaper: “We like it here. The people are wonderful.”

Mr Javid told the media-only hustings on Monday, June 17, that he was the only candidate left in the six-horse race not to have had a privileged upbringing.

sajid javid on why growing up in bristol put him off ever taking drugs - Sajid Javid on why growing up in Bristol put him off ever taking drugs

Sajid Javid attended Downend School in Westerleigh Road, Bristol

He went to Downend School, a state comprehensive, before moving on to Filton Technical College to complete his studies. The former culture secretary and banker would then go on to read politics and economics at Exeter University.

All five of the Cabinet minister’s rivals went to Oxford University, while Mr Stewart and front-runner Boris Johnson both attended the elite private school Eton that costs parents £40,000 per year to send their child.

The 49-year-old said: “I didn’t grow up going to the debating clubs at university, being given that confidence that you get in many of these elite classes in our country, I didn’t go to these top schools or to debating societies at Oxford or other places.

“I didn’t have that chance or that opportunity but I am trying my best to communicate in the best way that I can and I hope and think – judging by some of the responses I’ve had after the debate yesterday that was on TV – people appreciate that.

 

“I might not be the most confident debater, I might not be the most confident speaker of all time but I think what people want to see is someone who is genuine, honest and has had experience of real life at the rough end, as well as in business, in banking.”

The Rochdale-born contender said he would continue to back leaving the European Union if there was a second referendum in order to “put an end to this debate”. He said: “We cannot as a country keep having this debate about being in or out of the EU again and again. Look at the uncertainty and the challenges it is causing.”

But, asked by Bristol Live how he could convince Bristol’s remain-backing electorate to vote Conservative under his pro-Brexit leadership if he won the contest, Mr Javid said it was his background, as a son of a Pakistani migrant, that would give him the advantage at the next election.

He said: “I think that we as Conservatives only win again if we have broad appeal across the country in all different types of communities.

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“That is the lesson of history – in the last quarter of a century, we have only won one majority, we’ve only won one general election – and that was only just in 2015 with a thin majority and it only lasted two years. That shows you how volatile it is.

“The lesson learned is that we have to have broad appeal across the country, including in cities like Bristol and of course in London, as well as our Home Counties and Scotland and other places.

“That is where I think I have my strongest appeal, that broad appeal. We need to win more young people, more women voters, more ethnic minority voters, more disaffected Labour and Lib Dem voters and all the polling shows I have the broadest possible appeal for those people.”

 

Tory MPs will hold the second round of leadership votes during the afternoon of Tuesday, June 18.

Candidates must reach the threshold of 33 votes to stay in the contest. If all remaining six contestants reach that benchmark, then the rival with the lowest score will be eliminated.

MPs are expected to whittle the field down to two contenders by Thursday, June 20.

Boris Johnson – who boycotted the Westminster Lobby’s hustings on Monday – is the overwhelming favourite to come first, with the other five contenders in the race to join him in the final two.

The last pair remaining will tour the country before Tory members make their mind up on who will be the next leader. The result will be revealed at the end of July.

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