Keen to put together a team that reflects ‘modern, multicultural Britain’, Boris Johnson, who will take over as prime minister later on Wednesday, is likely to appoint Indian-origin MPs such as Priti Patel, Alok Sharma and Rishi Sunak to key roles.
Johnson received a mixed press a day after he was elected leader of the Conservative party, with several newspapers highlighting his unpredictable, gaffe-prone record in politics so far. The Guardian’s editorial is titled ‘The years of a clown’.
Patel, who was sacked by Prime Minister Theresa May in 2017 from the cabinet role of international development secretary after she held unauthorised meetings with Israeli leaders during a holiday, is one of Johnson’s foremost supporters.
According to The Times, she is likely to return to the cabinet and given the key role of Home secretary, while junior minister Alok Sharma is reportedly being considered for a promotion to the cabinet role of Business secretary.
Johnson’s likely inclusion of Indian and Pakistan-origin MPs (such as current home secretary Sajid Javid) in his team is partly to ward off accusations of racism reflected in his past comments on Islam.
Also in line for a promotion is said to be junior minister Rishi Sunak, who is son-in-law of Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy. He is considered a ‘rising star’ in the Conservative party, having first entered the House of Commons in 2015 and then in the 2017 election.
Speaking to ITV on Wednesday morning, Patel highlighted the need for inclusivity, and for an agenda stretching beyond Brexit, but was notably more critical of May’s government: “The important job now has to be getting on and doing the job of Brexit.”
“I think, actually, the country is just fed up now, sick and tired of this malaise that we have, this sort of indecision that has gripped the heart of Westminster There’s a different style and a different approach. We’ve had regressiveness for the last three years, where there’s been no decisions, we’ve been speaking and talking our country down.”
According to her, Johnson has a “forensic” in his approach, which could sort out Brexit despite the tight timetable: the UK is due to leave the European Union by October 31. Johnson has controversially promised to leave the EU by the date with or without an agreement.