Priti Patel, a 45-year-old Tory party MP, has become Britain’s first Indian-origin home secretary after her appointment by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday. Patel is an ardent Brexiteer who was among the most vocal critics of Theresa May’s Brexit strategy. She was forced to resign from Theresa May’s government after revelations that she had conducted secret meetings with the Israeli government.
However, the Gujarati-origin UK MP has been brought back into the Cabinet by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Considering her departure from the government less than two years ago, it would be an arduous task for Patel to meet the challenges that come with her new profile. She replaces Pakistani-origin Sajid Javid, who moves to the Treasury department as the first ethnic minority Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Patel had been a prominent member of the “Back Boris” campaign for the Conservative Party leadership. An ardent Leave campaigner, she was widely tipped for the plum post in the prime minister’s frontline team. She is a long-standing Eurosceptic, who had steered the “Vote Leave” campaign in the lead-up to the June, 2016 referendum in favour of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).
She was first elected as a Conservative MP for Witham in Essex in 2010 and gained prominence in the then David Cameron-led Tory government as his Indian Diaspora Champion. Patel, who was a prominent guest at all major Indian diaspora events in the UK, is seen as an avid supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the UK.
She was among the rebel Tory MPs who consistently voted against the former prime minister’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU as a “bad deal for Britain”, which ultimately sealed May’s term at the top post. Patel has once again returned as the seniormost British Indian member of the UK cabinet.