Priti Patel appointed home secretary, Javid gets finance in Johnson’s office
Priti Patel, who was sacked as international development secretary in 2017, was on Wednesday appointed to the key role of UK home secretary by the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson - the senior-most portfolio held by an Indian-origin MP in British history.
In another significant appointment, Sajid Javid - the 49-year-old son of Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents - became Britain’s first ethnic minority finance minister, capping off an unlikely rise from a humble start on a street dubbed the country’s worst to holding the purse strings for the world’s fifth-biggest economy.
Also Watch I Infosys founder’s son-in-law among 3 Indian-origin ministers in team Boris
London-born Patel, 47, has been an MP from Witham in Essex since 2010. An admirer of Margaret Thatcher, she was in the forefront on behalf of the David Cameron government (2010-2015) during the November 2015 visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to London.
The office of the home secretary is considered among the UK’s four ‘Great Offices of State’, others being the PM, chancellor of the exchequer and the foreign secretary.
A fervent Brexiteer who campaigned with Johnson during the 2016 EU referendum campaign, Patel’s role as home secretary puts her in charge of immigration, among other sensitive issues such as security.
Patel will have to take a call on the large number of Indian students caught up in the language test cheating row that has increasingly come on the centrestage during the home secretaryship of her predecessor, Javid.
She will also be under pressure to implement her promise made during the referendum campaign to relax visa norms to allow the recruitment of chefs from the Indian subcontinent in the UK’s struggling Indian restaurant industry.
Earlier in the day, Queen Elizabeth appointed Johnson as the UK’s new prime minister during a brief audience at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, heralding a new phase in British politics fractured by Brexit.