Three Indian-origin MPs in newly formed UK cabinet

One-eighth of the 31 member cabinet belongs to ethnic minorities

Diaspora

July 25, 2019

/ By / Kolkata

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The Indian origin ministers in the new UK cabinet (L-R) Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak and Alok Sharma

The new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his cabinet ministers which has three Indian-origin ministers who are set to hold key posts.

Boris Johnson, the new UK Prime Minister announced his 31-member cabinet on July 25 which has one-eighth of its members belonging to ethnic minorities and has three Indian-origin faces appointed for important posts. Along with Priti Patel who became the country’s first Indian-origin home secretary, Rishi Sunak and Alok Sharma have been appointed in Johnson’s cabinet.

Priti Patel, now the most senior Indian-origin member of parliament (MP) in British government, will replace the Pakistani-origin Sajid Javid who has been moved to the Treasury department as the first ethnic minority chancellor of the Exchequer. In reference to her new post in the UK Home Office, Patel said, “I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe, our people secure and also to fight the scourge of crime that we see on our streets. I look forward to the challenges that now lie ahead.”

London-born Patel has been MP from Witham in Essex since 2010 and as a fervent Brexiteer had campaigned with Johnson during the 2016 EU referendum campaign. Her new role places her in charge of immigration as well as sensitive issues like national security. She was also nominated as the ‘Indian Diaspora Champion’ by Cameron and had an important role in interactions between the government and the 1.5 million-strong Indian community in the UK, visiting Gujarat and India several times in the last few years.

Patel was forced to resign as international development secretary in November 2017 after admitting to holding unauthorised meetings with Israeli ministers. However, her new appointment brings her back as the senior-most British Indian member of the UK cabinet.

Rishi Sunak, son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy and writer Sudha Murthy, has been appointed as chief secretary to the Treasury. A graduate from Oxford and MBA from Stanford, Sunak was an investment fund entrepreneur and co-founded a one-billion-pound global investment firm before entering the British parliament as MP from Richmond (Yorks) in 2015.

The chief secretary to the Treasury is the third-most senior ministerial position in HM Treasury after the first lord of the Treasury and the chancellor of the Exchequer. A conservative party MP, Sunak was appointed as the parliamentary under-secretary of state in the ministry of housing, communities and local government as part of a new year reshuffle last year in Theresa May government.

Another Indian-origin MP Alok Sharma has been appointed as the secretary of state for International Development. Prior to joining parliament in 2010 from Reading West, he was in banking sector for 16 years. Sharma served as the housing minister in 2017 and minister of state for Employment from 2018 and tweeted that he was ‘hugely honoured’ for this new role.

PM Johnson who in the past has referred to himself as son-in-law of India in relation to his now estranged wife Marina Wheeler’s Indian mother Dip Kaur, has also stressed on developing UK-India relationship beyond just trade.

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