As the conservative party of the United Kingdom voted for Boris Johnson as the new Prime Minister, Indians are extremely joyous, given his pro Indian stand. Now, as the ministerial posts have come out, Indians have further reasons to celebrate since the most prominent cabinet berth, that of the Home Secretary, has been given to Priti Patel, an Indian origin politician, often described as a Thatcherite. Priti Patel is Britain’s first Indian-origin politician to take charge as the Home secretary.
I am deeply honoured to be appointed as Home Secretary by our new Prime Minister @borisjohnson. Looking forward to working @ukhomeoffice to prepare our Country for leaving the EU, leading on matters of national security & public safety & keeping our borders secure.
— Priti Patel MP (@patel4witham) July 24, 2019
The 47 year old Priti Patel was first elected as MP for Witham under the David Cameron government and was further re-elected in 2015 and 2017. Priti Patel was the first female Asian MP of the Conservative Party in 2010. She gained prominence when she was appointed as the Indian Diaspora Champion by Cameron, a unique first of its kind post. Since then, she has been a champion of India-UK ties.
Prior to this, Priti Patel has held junior ministerial posts, including, Treasury minister in 2014 and then Employment Minister after the 2015 General Election. In 2016, she was promoted to the post of Secretary of State in the Department for International Development in 2016 by Theresa May.
After Boris Johnson won the conservative party voting, Priti Patel told PTI, “With Boris Johnson leading the Conservative Party and as Prime Minister, the United Kingdom will have a Leader who believes in Britain, will implement a new vision for the future of the country and a roadmap to move forward and thrive as a self-governing nation that re-establishes our ties with our friends and allies around the world such as India. He is committed to securing new and improved trading relationship with our friends in India and ensuring that the values we share the rule of law, democracy, and dynamic entrepreneurial spirit should be at the heart of one of our most important partners on the global stage.”
Priti Patel has been a strong pro-India voice in the political circles of Britain and it was visible when Patel was a part of the team that recently released its report warning that the UK was falling behind in the race to engage with India at the end of a lengthy Global Britain and India parliamentary inquiry.
“Our report calls for the government to look again at the relationship between the UK and India,” Patel said, in reference to the Building Bridges: Reawakening UK-India ties’ report released last month to mark the first-ever India Day in the UK Parliament.
She had further said, “This should be a special relationship based upon the living bridge between our two great countries and a partnership we should be nurturing. The report covers many of the missed opportunities where the UK should be proactively and bilaterally enhancing our ties. We are soon to have a new PM in the UK, which will provide a welcome change in how we engage India’s re-elected PM Modi.”
Her admiration and support for PM Modi has been visible during a lot of instances in the past. She has always been vocal about improving Indo-UK ties and has spared no opportunity to interact with PM Modi in the past. In 2014, on the eve of PM Modi being elected as the Prime Minister of India, she had had lodged an official complaint with the BBC over its “one-sided” coverage of PM Modi, and even took the matter to the higher authorities in UK.
Congratulations to our dear friend Prime Minister @narendramodi on your victory in the elections. Wishing you & the people of India every success under your dynamic leadership.
— Priti Patel MP (@patel4witham) May 23, 2019
Priti Patel had received the ‘Jewels of Gujarat’ award in Ahmedabad in 2015 and gave a keynote speech at the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce. She even launched an appeal to “Save the British Curry” in the EU referendum campaign, aimed at easing a shortage of chefs for Indian restaurants in Britain.
Apart from Priti Patel, two other politicians of Indian origin have been inducted in Boris Johnson’s cabinet. Rishi Sunak, has been appointed as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy and writer Sudha Murthy, Rishi Sunak was elected as the Member of Parliament from Richmond (Yorks) in 2015. A businessman prior to this, Sunak studied in Oxford and Stanford universities.
The third politician, Agra-born Alok Sharma, has been appointed as the Secretary of State for International Development. Prior to this, he served as the Housing Minister in 2017 and Minister of State for Employment form 2018. He was elected to the Parliament in 2010 from Reading West, when his career as a politician began. With this, one-eighth of Boris Johnson’s cabinet MPs are of Indian origin.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson himself has been associated with India and has even referred to himself as a son-in-law of India, by virtue of his now estranged wife Marina Wheeler whose mother, Dip Kaur, is Indian.
Boris Johnson, an admirer of PM Modi, has been eyeing a free trade deal with India. He recently wrote a letter to the Indian diaspora, “When I was with Prime Minister Modi, I stressed that the UK and India are two modern democracies who should work closely together to promote trade and prosperity, improve global security and tackle the challenges our countries face.” With so many politicians of Indian origin in the Prime Ministerial cabinet, it is clear that Boris Johnson’s tenure is going to be focused on India and India can surely expect some positive changes in the Indo-UK ties.