THE prime minister shone the spotlight on her colleagues as examples of the opportunities that she wants to ‘open up’ to everyone in society.
Theresa May cited home secretary Sajid Javid, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, and work and pensions secretary Esther McVey, who spent part of her childhood in a Barnado’s care home, as examples of how background had not hindered careers in modern British society.
‘If we are secure and we are free, then opportunity is opened up,’ Mrs May told the party conference. ‘The opportunity to take your future in your hands. To know that if your dad arrived on a plane from Pakistan, you can become home secretary. That if you spent time in care, you can be in the cabinet.’
She also highlighted Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson as an example of Tory diversity, saying that ‘if you are pregnant with your first child and engaged to your girlfriend, you could be the next First Minister of Scotland’.
‘We, the Conservative Party, are the party of opportunity,’ Mrs May said.
Ms McVey, 50, revealed earlier this week she was a ‘Barnardo’s child’ and had spent her first two years with the charity. Speaking about her early childhood for the first time, she said she was placed in foster care by her young parents, Jimmy, 22, and her mother Barbara, who was only 18.
The former TV presenter said that, after a couple of years, she returned to her family in the Liverpool suburb of West Derby.
Ms McVey added: ‘I believe most people in their life will fall upon tough times at some point. I want to give the message that anyone can succeed given the opportunity.’
Mr Javid’s father arrived at Heathrow Airport from Pakistan in 1961 with £1 in his pocket.
He settled in Rochdale, working in a cotton mill and then on the buses.