The Indian-origin Politician Ms. Priti Patel, 47, has recently been appointed as UK Home Secretary. Ms. Patel replaces Pakistani-origin Sajid Javid, who moves to the treasury department as the first ethnic minority Chancellor of the Exchequer. Ms. Patel is English-born to Ugandan-Indian family. She was first elected as a Conservative MP in 2010 and gained prominence in the then David Cameron led Tory government as his Indian Diaspora Champion.
Ms. Patel’s appointment does not come as a surprise, since she has been at the forefront of the ‘Back Boris’ campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party. She is an ardent Brexiteer was among the most vocal critics of Theresa May’s Brexit strategy. After her appointment, she said it is important that the Cabinet should represent modern Britain as well as a modern Conservative Party. She campaigned to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016, and since leaving the government has been an outspoken critic of former UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to Brexit.
Importantly, Ms. Patel resigned as international development minister in November 2017 amid a scandal over allegedly failing to disclose meetings with officials in Israel without informing the UK Foreign Office that breached diplomatic protocol. With the appointment, she once again returns as the senior-most British Indian member of the UK Cabinet.
In the EU referendum campaign she launched an appeal to “Save the British Curry” which argued that a post-Brexit immigration system would be fairer to those from outside the EU and ease a shortage of chefs for Indian restaurants in Britain. However, a sometimes outspoken figure, Patel has been criticised by political opponents for defending the tobacco and alcohol industries, voted against introducing same-sex marriage and for calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty. No wonder, she is considered to be on the right-wing of the Conservative Party.
The Gujarati-origin politician, who is a prominent guest at all major Indian diaspora events in the UK, is seen as a avid supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the UK. She had praised him for demonetisation, calling it a “right step to tackle the root causes of corruption”. “Our report calls for the government to look again at the relationship between the UK and India,” Patel said recently, in reference to the ‘Building Bridges: Reawakening UK-India ties’ report released in June 2019 to mark the first-ever India Day in the UK Parliament.
“It is important that the Cabinet should represent modern Britain as well as a modern Conservative Party,” she said, just hours before her appointment was announced. Speaking on the appointment Ms. 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”.
Interestingly, the former British leader David Cameron has touted Patel as Britain’s first Indian-heritage Prime Minister during a huge rally at Wembley stadium in 2015 to mark the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.