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#UpwardlyMobile: Meet the British Asian stars of David Cameron’s new cabinet

On a dreary and wet day in Croydon in late April David Cameron spoke of his “dream” of creating a Britain where the country’s diversity was reflected in all aspects of British life.

On Monday, Mr Cameron took a not-insignificant step towards achieving that dream, naming the son of a Pakistani bus driver and daughter of a Gujarati shopkeeper to top positions in his new cabinet.

Sajid Javid, the former Culture Secretary, was today named to the important position of Business Secretary – in charge of all things business, innovation and skills, taking over the position vacated by Lib Dem veteran Vince Cable. 

Priti Patel, whose parents fled Idi Amin’s Uganda in the 1960’s, was named Minister of State for Employment.

It’s just reward for two of the most ambitious figures within the Conservative Party. 

Both are also extremely prominent within the British Asian community in the UK – Javid was seen last week at the official launch of the Asian Cricket Awards 2015 whilst Patel had accompanied Mr Cameron as he visited a number of Indian community organizations in the run-up to the election.

Mrs Patel was previously Mr Cameron’s ‘Indian Diaspora Champion’.  A keen supporter of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she has spoken of her keenness to get Mr Modi to visit the UK in the coming months.

Both Mr Javid and Mrs Patel embody the twin Tory values Cameron most frequently alluded to during the election campaign, whenever he spoke of the British Asian community; “hard work” and “entrepreneurship”.

Born in Rochdale, Lancashire, Mr Javid, 45, is one of five boys.  His Lahore-born father Abdul worked as a bus driver in the city for a number of years before moving his family to Bristol where he had bought a clothing shop.

That entrepreneurial spirit has clearly been inherited by his son. 

Mr Javid attended Exeter University before entering the world of finance, working for Chase Manhattan Bank in New York and Deutsche Bank in Singapore. 

In 2009 he gave up finance for politics, winning the Bromsgrove Tory seat in February 2010 with more than 70% of the vote.  He quickly made an impact with senior Tories who have touted him as a future Prime Minister. 

Whilst Mr Javid’s initial calling was finance, Mrs Patel’s was public relations.

Her parents had fled Uganda to the UK in the 1960’s, running a post office in Norfolk before the family moved to London where Priti was born in 1972.  She grew up in West London where her father ran an off license.

Mrs Patel attended Keele University before joining the Conservative Party as a researcher in the early 1990’s.  She later left the Party to work for the global PR giant Weber Shandwick.

Rejoining politics in 2005, Mrs Patel lost her first election before scoring a spectacular majority in the safe Tory seat of Witham in Essex.

Ideologically, both Mrs Patel and Mr Javid occupy the political ground to the right of the more centrist Cameron.

British-Pakistani Mr Javid has spoken publicly against multiculturalism and the schisms it has created among communities. 

“I am proud of my Pakistani and Muslim heritage but, as I have myself said repeatedly, people who settle here should respect the British way of life, culture and traditions, and be required to learn our language”, Javid told a Muslim newspaper in 2012.

“For too long we have championed an ideology of multiculturalism which has created divides rather than broken them down.”

Mrs Patel meanwhile is a Eurosceptic and has previously called for the re-introduction of the death penalty for the most serious crimes.



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