UK-India historical relationship revived: “Patels” bringing our “homes” together

Thursday 25th July 2019 07:36 EDT
Priti Patel, Gavin Williamson and Sajid Javid previous winners at the Asian Voice Political and Public Life Awards.

Priti Patel, Sajid Javid, Rishi Sunak and Alok Sharma are the new team players in Boris Johnson's cabinet, ticking the diversity box in politics. Today, as history is etched in British politics with the appointment of the most inclusive government perhaps, this is also the most appropriate moment to recall history.

The UK-India “special relationship” has achieved a new milestone today with “Patels” bringing our “homes” together. Priti Patel is the first Indian-origin minister to be crowned the Home Secretary of the UK at a time when the UK imperial legacy appears to be crumbling. Whilst, Sardar Patel, the Iron Man of India and it's first-ever Home Minister, was instrumental in India's freedom struggle against the British.

In the meantime, for the first time the country also receives a Pakistani-origin minister as its Chancellor in Sajid Javid. Additionally, two Indian- origin cabinet members - Alok Sharma and Rishi Sunak are appointed as International Development Secretary and Chief Secretary to the Treasury respectively.

Johnson’s cabinet has many members who originally voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. But leading Brexiteers Priti Patel and Dominic Raab have been rewarded with the posts of Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary respectively. Eight out of the 31 positions in cabinet have gone to women. Both Julian Smith, Northern Ireland Secretary and Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary previously had roles where they attended cabinet but were not full members. As Johnson's cabinet is perhaps the most right-wing Government the UK has ever had more than half of Theresa May’s cabinet no longer finds a position.


Sajid Javid – Chancellor of the exchequer: The former home secretary always seemed set for a high-ranking position in Johnson’s cabinet. As an already prominent minister who was seen as having boosted his status in the race to succeed May, is the first ever Asian to have acquired the top-position as chancellor, replacing Philip Hammond. He was a successful investment banker until he was elected as an MP for Bromsgrove in 2010.

Priti Patel - Home Secretary: Indian origin Priti Patel is among an array of prominent Brexiteers to take account in the cabinet as home secretary. The 47-year-old former international development secretary, is an ardent Brexiteer, who has supported Johnson in the leadership contest, describing him as the only person who can save Brexit and the Tories. Patel resigned from the cabinet in November 2017 following a row over unauthorised meetings with Israeli politicians. She was first elected to the seat from Witham, Essex, in 2010, after working for several years in PR for the Conservative Party, as well as lobbying for tobacco and alcohol industries.

Alok Sharma: International Development Secretary: Alok Sharma is another Indian origin in Johnson's cabinet as International Development Secretary. The former employment minister and MP for Reading West backed Johnson for prime ministership. He said he believed Johnson was the only candidate who could deliver on Brexit. Prior to being elected in 2010, he qualified as a chartered accountant and worked in banking.

Rishi Sunak will also attend cabinet as chief secretary to the Treasury.

Dominic Raab - Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State: Dominic Raab is appointed as foreign secretary and first secretary of state. The MP for Esher and Walton worked as an in-house lawyer for the Foreign Office in 2000 has now returned as head of the department. It's a major promotion for Raab, who has just four months of experience in the Cabinet after a stint as Brexit Secretary last year. After being knocked out in the Tory leadership race on a hardcore Brexiteer ticket, he quickly backed his former rival Johnson and supported him in his campaign. Raab is in favour of a no-deal Brexit and replaces Jeremy Hunt.

Michael Gove - Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster: Michael Gove has been made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – effectively minister without portfolio. Like Johnson a former newspaper columnist, Gove has represented the safe Surrey Heath seat since 2005. After a junior spell on the shadow front benches, he was made education secretary by David Cameron in 2010. Gove became environment secretary in June 2017 and he proved a key advocate of May’s Brexit deal, while other Brexiteer cabinet ministers resigned.

Ben Wallace- Defence Secretary: Formerly the security minister in the Home Office has been named Defence Secretary. An MP for almost 15 years and a frontbencher for 12, Wallace will nonetheless be one of the lesser-known figures in Johnson’s new cabinet, where he has replaced Penny Mordaunt. From 1999 to 2003 he was a member of the Scottish parliament. In 2005 he won the Lancaster and Wyre seat. From 2007 he worked in the Scotland and Northern Ireland offices, and as a whip, before entering the Home Office when May became PM.

Gavin Williamson - Education Secretary: The state-educated South Staffordshire MP, who studied social sciences at the University of Bradford, has made an astonishing return to the Cabinet as Education Secretary. The former Defence Secretary was sacked just three months ago for leaking secrets from a National Security Council meeting. As a former chief whip, with an in-depth knowledge of the Tory party machinery, Williamson was a key member of Johnson’s campaign team.

Matt Hancock - Health and Social Care Secretary: Matt Hancock stays in one of the hardest job in government as Health and Social Care Secretary despite aiming volleys of criticism at Johnson while running against him for the leadership. As chief of staff to Osborne before entering parliament in 2010, Hancock was closely associated with the Osborne–Cameron circle, and rose steadily through junior ministerial ranks under the coalition and beyond. When May took over in 2016, he might have expected a return to the backbenches, but was spared.

Andrea Leadsom - Business Secretary: One of Conservatives’ most prominent female politicians, and an ardent Brexiteer, Andrea Leadsom has been appointed as business secretary. The 56-year old, who worked in investment banking for more than 20 years entered Parliament in 2010 to represent the newly created seat of South Northamptonshire. She served in cabinet as environment secretary from 2016-17 and then as leader of the House of Commons. Leadsom resigned as leader of the House of Commons on 22 May, saying she had lost faith with the government’s plan for Brexit.

Liz Truss - International Trade Secretary: Liz Truss, a staunch ideological supporter of Johnson, is named international trade secretary to the Treasury. The MP for South West Norfolk since 2010 was briefly justice secretary before moving to the Treasury. She was second-in-command at the Treasury in the last cabinet and had previously served as Environment Secretary and was the first female Lord Chancellor between 2016 and 2017. Truss was elected to Parliament in 2010 after serving as deputy director of think tank Reform.

Robert Jenrick - Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government: A big promotion for the youngest member of Johnson’s cabinet, and the most recent arrival in Westminster. The former lawyer, 37, entered parliament in 2014 in the Newark by-election, caused by the resignation of the incumbent MP, Patrick Mercer. Jenrick has been on the Tory front bench for even less time, taking a junior Treasury role at the start of 2018.

Grant Shapps - Transport Secretary: Shapps has been rewarded for his role helping Johnson’s successful leadership campaign. His previous roles include being both Tory party co-chairman and a Cabinet Office minister from 2012 to 2015, when he became a minister at the Department for International Development. A former remainer, he has since said he is backing Brexit "as hard as you like".

Other appointees who will also attend cabinet

Johnson’s brother Jo is appointed minister of state at the department for business, energy and industrial strategy and the department for education. Arch-Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg was made Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons., as will Esther McVey, who becomes minister of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and Chris Skidmore, minister of state for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. Geoffrey Cox stays on as attorney general, while Mark Spencer is chief whip. Brandon Lewis has been appointed a Home Office minister. Oliver Dowden was named paymaster general and minister for Cabinet Office. Kwasi Kwarteng becomes minister of state at BEIS. They will all attend cabinet, according to Downing Street.

Stephen Barclay, Matt Hancock and Amber Rudd keep their jobs as Brexit secretary, health secretary and work and pensions secretary respectively. Former chief whip Julian Smith has been appointed Northern Ireland secretary, Alister Jack becomes Scottish secretary, and Alun Cairns will remain Welsh secretary. James Cleverly becomes the Conservative party chair. Robert Buckland QC is appointed lord chancellor and justice secretary and Nicky Morgan becomes secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport.

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