Narayana Murthy's son-in-law among three Indian-origin ministers in Boris Johnson's Cabinet

Priti Patel, Rishi Sunak and Alok Sharma are the three Indian-origin ministers who are all set to be inducted into the new UK Prime Minister's cabinet.

Published: 25th July 2019 02:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th July 2019 10:50 PM   |  A+A-


L-R: UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak, and International Development Secretary Alok Sharma. (Photos | Facebook/ AFP)

By Online Desk

Boris Johnson has appointed three Indian-origin leaders as part of his top team in what has been dubbed Britain's most diverse Cabinet as the new prime minister moves to fulfil his pledge that the country would leave the EU on October 31 with "no ifs, no buts".

Hours after Johnson was appointed by the Queen as Britain's new prime minister, he named Patel as the Home Secretary, Alok Sharma as the International Development Secretary and Rishi Sunak as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Patel and Sunak, who is the son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy and writer Sudha Murthy, are both staunch Brexiteers.

Patel will now be in charge of the UK's security, immigration and visa policies.

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"The pressures being put on our services by immigration from the European Union (EU) has meant that tough limits have been put in place on immigration from outside the EU," she said during her time as one of the prominent leaders of the Vote Leave campaign in the lead up to the June 2016 referendum in favour of Brexit.

Explaining further, she said, "This means that our relatives struggle to get visas to come to the UK for family celebrations, restaurants cannot employ skilled chefs from abroad, our temples cannot bring in priests, and we cannot bring people in for business, cultural or sporting events - as well as the thousands of talented professionals like doctors, teachers and engineers," she said.

Sunak had also issued similar open letters in favour of fairer visa norms for everyone in the world.

Rishi Sunak: Chief Secretary to the Treasury

The 39-year-old Conservative Party MP, who is married to Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy's daughter Akshata, is an MBA graduate and investment expert who takes charge of one of the most important jobs in the UK Treasury, serving under the new Chancellor, Sajid Javid.

Akshata Murthy, daughter of Narayana Murthy, was Sunak's classmate at Stanford Business School in California. They have two children - Krishna and Anoushka.

The UK-born son of a pharmacist mother and a National Health Service (NHS) general practitioner father, Sunak is an Oxford University and Stanford graduate. He has roots in Goa. 

Narayana Murthy and Sudha Murthy at their daughter Akshata Murthy and Rishi Sunak's wedding. (Photo | File, PTI)

He co-founded a £1 billion global investment firm and specialised in investing in small British businesses before his entry to the British Parliament in the 2015 general election.

Since his re-election in the 2017 snap election called by Theresa May, Sunak has long been considered a rising star as he took over junior ministerial roles and was widely tipped for a promotion in the Johnson Cabinet.

Rishi and Akshata with their children Krishna and Anoushka. (Photo | Rishi Sunak Facebook)

"From working in my mum's tiny chemist shop to my experience building large businesses, I have seen how we should support free enterprise and innovation to ensure Britain has a stronger future," Sunak had said during the Brexit referendum.

He strongly believes that small businesses in the UK would flourish as a result of Brexit as the "vast majority of British businesses (94 per cent) don't have anything to do with the EU; but they are still subject to all EU law."

Priti Patel: Home Secretary

The 47-year-old who was a Member of Parliament (MP) from Witham in Essex since 2010 and has played a leading role in Boris Johnson's leadership campaign, takes over from Sajid Javid, who has now been appointed Chancellor by the new Prime Minister.

Javid, who was in the prime ministerial race, will be replacing Philip Hammond, who resigned in protest against the election of Johnson as the PM.

Priti Patel (Photo | Facebook)

Priti Patel had served as international development minister from 2016 to 2017, and was fired by Theresa May in 2017 for breaching the ministerial code after holding unauthorized meetings with Israeli politicians.

Patel did not return to the cabinet under May and was a trenchant critic of her EU divorce deal -- voting against it all three times in parliament and thereby helping to end her tenure as Tory leader.

Alok Sharma: International Development Secretary

India-born Alok Sharma was first elected as a member of Parliament in 2010, following a career in accounting and banking.

He backed Johnson in the Conservative Party leadership contest as the leader best placed to launch a "coherent unambiguous plan to deliver Brexit and take us out of the European Union."

The 51-year-old Conservative Party MP who was serving as employment minister has been promoted to a full-fledged Cabinet post in the Department for International Development (DfID), where he will be in charge of the UK's aid budget and partnerships.

"We will work across the whole of government to deliver Brexit and make sure UK aid is tackling global challenges that affect us all, such as climate change, disease and humanitarian disasters," said Sharma, in reference to his new job.

Alok Sharma with other leaders (Photo | Facebook)

Alok Sharma previously served as employment minister in the Department of Work and Pensions, housing minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government, and minister for Asia and the Pacific at FCO.

As housing minister, he was criticised in the wake of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 which resulted in the deaths of 80 people. He is known for his teary speech in the House of Commons where he spoke about the tragedy.

In 2016, Sharma also served as the prime minister’s infrastructure envoy to India.

Boris Johnson's Indian roots

PM Johnson has in the past described himself as a son-in-law of India by virtue of his now estranged wife Marina Wheeler’s Indian mother Dip Singh Kaur.  Dip Singh was married to Khushwant Singh's youngest brother, Daljit Singh.

Before they announced their separation last year after 25 years of marriage, Johnson had travelled several times to India with Marina. They have four children together.

Boris Johnson and his ex-wife Marina Wheeler (Photo | File, AP)

Johnson has stressed that the UK’s relationship with India must run deeper than just trade.

The new UK Cabinet, which also includes Pakistani-origin Javid, has more ethnic minority key ministers than any previous UK ministerial team.

"It proves that in modern Britain you can reach the highest office regardless of your background or origins. It also signals the different approach which Boris Johnson is expected to take towards immigration - welcoming the best and brightest talent to the UK - based on the needs of the economy rather than setting arbitrary targets," said Indian-origin peer Lord Jitesh Gadhia.

(With inputs from PTI)

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