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Dipankar De Sarkar, Hindustan Times
London, April 26, 2013
British Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed as his head of policy a man who is counted among the strongest advocates of a special relationship between India and Britain.

Jo Johnson, younger brother of London Mayor Boris and former Financial Times correspondent in New Delhi, will head the policy unit at 10 Downing Street and sharpen Conservative party strategy in the run-up to the 2015 general election.

Johnson, who is an MP, is regarded as a bright high-flier in the party and will have his work cut out for him.

He will appoint a new Conservative advisory board on policy made up of some of the party’s biggest thinkers, including Thatcher-era cabinet minister Peter Lilley.

Like Cameron and the London Mayor, Jo too is a product of Eton, reputedly the world’s most exclusive public school, and Oxford University.

Johnson is expected to help put an end to what has often been described as policy muddle at No 10, by creating a “Thatcher-style traditional policy unit” to drive ideas throughout the government.

Very much a modern-era Indophile, Johnson, 41, has sought to present India to Britain through the eyes of Indians, arguing vociferously new measures in trade and foreign policy, including addressing Indian concerns over NATO troops withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Johnson attributes much of the recent decline in ties to the 10 years of Labour rule, during which Britain plunged from being India’s fourth most important source of imports to its 18th.