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Sayeeda Warsi (©Penguin Press Office)


In 1979, when she was eight years old, Sayeeda Warsi and her three sisters were taken by their parents from their Yorkshire home for an extended visit to Pakistan, the adults’ native country, during which the girls missed several months’ schooling. During their absence Sayeeda’s schoolmates in Dewsbury learned joined-up writing. Sayeeda never caught up and, she admits in a new  book, “to this day, I still print”. Unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Baroness Warsi, as she now is, has never learned joined-up thinking either.

As minister for faith and communities in the Coalition government, she played an active role in promoting the Prevent programme for deradicalising potential Islamist extremists. Prevent is the envy of many other European countries with a disaffected Muslim minority and which have, as a consequence, suffered worse terrorist atrocities than Britain. Now out of office, she seeks to undermine it.

She was a Brexit supporter, then switched late in the day to the Remain campaign, just in time to back the losing horse.

In 2014 she resigned from her post as a Foreign Office minister in protest at the government’s posture on the Israel-Gaza conflict. “I did not resign because of what the Israelis were doing to the Palestinians,” she now writes, “I resigned because of my government’s reaction, or more accurately put inaction, to it.” Work that one out.

Sayeeda Warsi rose to her present eminence without trace, as Malcolm Muggeridge said of David Frost, for which she has David Cameron to thank. Although she now claims Muslims are discriminated against by the white majority, she herself is a poster girl for successful integration. Her father was a penniless immigrant who worked his way from mill work and bus driving to setting up a successful business: the classic immigrant success story. Her mother devoted herself to her daughters’ education. Sayeeda got a law degree at Leeds University; in her final year she was married by arrangement at 19 to her first cousin. She had a daughter but the marriage was not a success. She worked for the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office Immigration Department, then set up her own solicitor’s firm in Dewsbury.

After the 9/11 attacks, her life took an unexpected turn. Within a year, she writes in her book, The Enemy Within: A Tale of Muslim Britain (Allen Lane, £20), she had sold her legal practice amid “a disintegrating marriage” and taken off to Pakistan for what she calls “my very late gap year”.
 
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