Tooting MP Sadiq Khan named first Muslim cabinet minister in Gordon Brown's reshuffle
Tooting MP Sadiq Khan said his bus driver father would be proud today after he became the first ever Muslim to join the cabinet, as the minister of state for transport.
Mr Khan, whose late father drove buses around Wandsworth for 25 years, was given the huge promotion in the Labour party reshuffle following the expenses scandal.
The 38-year-old father of two, who grew up on the Henry Prince Estate in Earlsfield, said he wanted to be an inspiration to all people from humble backgrounds.
He said: “My dad, when he first came to this country, he wouldn’t have dreamt that his son would have gone to the cabinet.
“If he was alive now he’d pinch himself. When you’re an immigrant and you’re driving buses, working all the hours God sends, and when you live on the Henry Prince Estate, sometimes you can have limited dreams and expectations.
“This is the land of hope and glory. This is a country where the sky is the limit.”
Mr Khan received the phone call from Gordon Brown yesterday while he was taking his children to Tooting leisure centre, but was so surprised he had to call back to check he had heard right.
The promotion was unexpected because Mr Khan has already progressed very quickly from backbencher to junior communities minister since his election in 2005.
He will start the job on Monday, and hopes to use his influence to get public transport moving better in Tooting.
Today he claimed transport was “in the blood” because of the decades his father, Amanullah Khan, spent driving the number 44 bus from Wandsworth garage until he died in 2003.
Local priorities include the introduction of the Oyster system on overground trains, lifts at Earlsfield and Tooting Broadway stations and a bus from Tooting to Fulham.
The reshuffle followed the resignation of many MPs amidst the expenses scandal, including former transport secretary, Geoff Hoon.
Mr Khan said he supported Gordon Brown as the right man to lead the country, and condemned the in-fighting in the Labour party.
He also attacked the untimely resignation of his former boss, Hazel Blears, who quit her post as communities secretary at the most demoralising time for the party - the day before the European elections.
He said: “I’m fed up with Labour MPs moaning and groaning when there are people losing their jobs and homes. We are seen to be like bickering children.”
As minister of state for transport, he will also be a privy counsellor and will attend cabinet, acting as the lead transport speaker in the House of Commons.
Lord Andrew Adonis is now the secretary of state for transport, but because he also sits in the House of Lords, he cannot speak in the Commons.