More than just a ‘Priti’ picture: This Indian-origin woman is leading the ‘Brexit’ campaign

Priti Patel, the senior-most British Indian member of David Cameron’s cabinet, is part of the ‘leave’ camp, which favours Britain’s exit (or ‘Brexit’) from the European Union in the referendum



India At Large staff

Priti Patel says quitting Europe will make Britain stronger. The senior-most Indian-origin member of David Cameron’s cabinet, is part of the ‘leave’ camp, which favours ‘Brexit’ or Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) in the referendum.

On February 20, Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, set June 23 as the date for a referendum on the country’s membership of the EU. His announcement followed a protracted renegotiation of the current conditions of Britain’s membership at a summit in Brussels. The move immediately prompted government ministers to declare their backing for either the ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ campaigns.

“For 41 years, the British public have been denied a referendum on Europe, and their say on the powers and money that Brussels has taken from us. They now have the chance to hold its undemocratic and unaccountable institutions to account by voting to leave the EU,” Patel, the 43-year-old employment minister, was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.

“I believe we can only safeguard Britain’s future by once again becoming a genuinely sovereign country, with British laws being made in the British Parliament in the interests of the British people,” she adds.

In the context of British Indians, Patel has used the country’s love for Indian food, dubbed curry, to make her case stronger. She says membership of the EU meant unmanageable levels of European migration which led to Indian chefs being denied visas. “There are over 12,000 Indian restaurants in the UK. But the future of this sector is under pressure and at risk while we remain in the EU,” Patel was quoted as saying at a gathering in London recently by Newsgram.

Along with MPs Kwasi Kwarteng, Dominic Raab, Chris Skidmore and Elizabeth Truss, Patel is part of the five-strong “Class of 2010” seen to represent the party’s “new Right”. She voted against gay marriage, campaigned against the smoking ban and once referred to British workers as “among the worst idlers in the world”.

On economic matters, she’s an unapologetic Thatcherite. The former prime minister had a “unique ability to understand what made people tick”, Patel said of her idol, Margaret Thatcher, in an interview with Total Politics. “Managing the economy, balancing the books and making decisions – not purchasing things the country couldn’t afford.”

Born in London to Gujarati parents who fled Uganda in the 1960s, 43-year-old Patel is a graduate of Keele University, where she studied economics, sociology and social anthropology. After graduating, she spent several years working in press relations and consultancy, including a controversial stint representing British American Tobacco.

She became a card-carrying Conservative aged 18 and first fought for a seat in 2005, unsuccessfully fighting to become MP for Nottingham North. However, new leader David Cameron identified her as a promising young talent and she was parachuted into the safe Tory seat of Witham, where she was duly elected in 2010. Following the 2015 general election, she was named employment minister in the Department for Work and Pensions.

She is also married and has a seven-year-old son.

Pics courtesy: The Telegraph, UK


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