Rishi Sunak, Priti Patel, Alok Sharma: Key things to know about Indian-origin ministers in UK
Johnson chose ‘Britain’s most diverse Cabinet’ shortly after being appointed by the Queen as Britain’s new prime minister in July last year.Updated: Feb 13, 2020 18:41 IST
Infosys founder Narayan Murthy’s son-in-law Rishi Sunak has been appointed the UK’s new Chancellor of the Exchequer (equivalent to finance minister in India) by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He is among the three Indian-origin ministers in Johnson’s team.
The other two - Priti Patel and Alok Sharma - were inducted into the British Cabinet in July last year, along with Sunak.
The sudden reshuffle on Thursday came as Pakistan-origin Sajid Javid resigned as Chancellor of Exchequer, and Johnson reshaped the team in hopes of delivering his vision for Britain beyond Brexit.
Johnson chose ‘Britain’s most diverse Cabinet’ shortly after being appointed by the Queen as Britain’s new prime minister in July last year.
Sharma (51), who was the international development secretary, has been promoted to Business Secretary. In his previous role, he was responsible for an overseas British aid in a department committed to spending 0.7 per cent of the UK’s national income as international aid each year. Britain has long stopped traditional aid to India, but funds some programmes in selected states. In his new role, Sharma will oversee the next stage of global climate change talks, known as COP 26, in Glasgow this year.
Agra-born Sharma, who is MP for Reading West since 2010, was the employment minister in the Theresa May government. He was one of the foremost supporters of Johnson in the recent Conservative leadership election.
Hampshire-born Sunak, 39, has been MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, since 2015. He was a junior minister in the department of local government, and the chief secretary to the Treasury. He is married to Narayana Murthy’s daughter Akshata, and is an MBA graduate and investment expert.
Forty-seven-year-old Home Secretary Patel has, meanwhile, vowed to fight the scourge of crime and is in the hot seat to fulfill some of her past promises of a fairer post-Brexit visa regime for everyone around the world, free of the freedom of movement norms imposed by the European Union (EU).
Patel was nominated as the ‘Indian Diaspora Champion’ by Britain’s former prime minister David Cameron and played a frontline role in interactions between the government and the 1.5 million-strong Indian community in the UK, visiting Gujarat and India several times in recent years.
Along with these three, 15 Indian-origin MPs are among 65 non-whites elected to the new 650-member House of Commons in December elections, reflecting 10 per cent of its strength and making it ethnically the most diverse house in British political history.
The election of 15 MPs of Indian extraction is a new record for the 1.5 million-strong community: They include eight from Labour and seven from the Conservative party. There were 12 such MPs in the last House.