Two Indian-origin Ministers are holding two of the most powerful offices in the UK. Their tasks are not easy though
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have been mocked by the liberal British media but his huge victory in the last general election has put the implementation of Brexit front and centre of his to-do list. Two of the core agenda of Brexit and one reason why the British voted to leave the European Union (EU) are “immigration” and “financial policy.” This is why Johnson has tapped two Indian-origin members from his party to deliver on both fronts. Priti Patel has been the Home Secretary (Minister) for a while but in a stunning announcement this week, Johnson appointed Rishi Sunak as his Chancellor, or Finance Minister in Indian lingo. Most Indians feel Sunak’s claim to fame comes from the fact that he is Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law but he has always been highly regarded inside the Conservative Party establishment. He was also former Chancellor Sajid Javid’s right hand man. At 39, he is the second-youngest man to take on the job in modern times, the youngest being George Osborne, who, with former British Prime Minister David Cameron, was the architect of the disastrous Brexit referendum that set in motion the political chaos that has engulfed the UK. Sunak has not been given unfettered powers as Johnson and his team will control the show. This is the reason why Javid resigned. However, Sunak has a hard task ahead given that he will have to draft Britain’s first Brexit Budget and present it within the next few weeks. This will not be easy with negotiations between London and Brussels taking longer than expected. The ongoing global economic contagion has been made worse by the actual contagion in China right now. Sunak may be a bright spark but his job ahead to convince companies to come and invest in Britain and not run away — as in the current state of affairs with financial institutions and manufacturers both looking at options on the continent — will be a tough one.
He should also be aware that Johnson, like several other charismatic leaders of nativist movements across the world, is not someone who takes the blame. While getting a big job, Sunak must not become the scapegoat tomorrow. That said, the rise into positions of prominence for Indian-origin Britons is a matter of pride. Indians are in prominent positions across the political spectrum in the UK and are a model immigrant community. The Indian Government should continue to engage with them and ensure that Indo-British ties improve even further.
(Courtesy: Editorial, The Pioneer)