After appointing Priti Patel to the high-profile role of Home secretary, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promoted junior minister Alok Sharma to the rank of a cabinet minister with the portfolio of international development.
Johnson, who began the process of forming his team soon after being appointed prime minister by Queen Elizabeth, also promoted Rishi Sunak, son-in-law of Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy to the role of chief secretary to the Treasury under new chancellor Sajid Javid.
As the international development secretary, Sharma, 51, will be responsible for an overseas British aid in a department committed to spending 0.7% of the UK’s national income as international aid each year. Britain has long stopped traditional aid to India, but funds some programmes in selected states.
Hampshire-born Sunak, 39, has been MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, since 2015. He was a junior minister in the department of local government, and as the chief secretary to the Treasury, he will attend cabinet meetings.
Agra-born Sharma, who is MP for Reading West since 2010, was the employment minister in the Theresa May government. He was one of the foremost supporters of Johnson in the recent Conservative leadership election.
When Johnson was the foreign secretary in the May government, Sharma had the junior role of parliamentary under secretary of state in the Foreign Office with responsibility for the Asia-Pacific region. He often responded on the government’s behalf in parliament on Indian issues.
The appointments of Patel, Sharma and Sunak mean it will be the first time the UK prime minister’s cabinet table will have three ministers from the 1.5 million-strong Indian community.