;She’s a woman, she’s also come from the Indian subcontinent. I mean, this is really important’
Boris Johnson supporter Iain Duncan-Smith said that London-born Home Secretary Priti Patel is in the Cabinet because “she’s from the Indian subcontinent” during a radio interview on Thursday.
Ms Patel was appointed Home Secretary, one of the four great offices of state, on Wednesday as Mr Johnson embarked in a major cull of the old guard Cabinet on his first day in office.
The MP for Witham, whose parents are Ugandan Asians of Gujarati origin who fled the regime of Idi Amin, makes up one of four BAME ministers in Mr Johnson’s 23 member Cabinet. This means BAME representation in the Cabinet is broadly in line with the general population.
But Mr Duncan-Smith, himself a former Tory leader, slipped up when he defended her appointment, despite her being sacked after she conducted unauthorised meetings in Israel while on holiday there in 2017.
‘The changing nature of Britain’
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I think or three things, I think, which are really important.”
“One, because she does believe in the project, we have to live by the 31st, and if you’ve got 100 days, you cannot have people who say, ‘do you know what, I’m unsure about this’
“Two, I think it’s very important that Boris has somebody in there who represents now the changing nature of Britain. She’s a woman, she’s also come from the Indian subcontinent. I mean, this is really important.
“And three, I think, really importantly is he’s got a wider agenda than just Brexit. So she’s there to make sure that knows that police support is much bigger, that we’ve also got a huge change to the way we deal with migration and I think that important.”
Ms Patel’s appointment has raised eyebrows due to her support for draconian policies, including her previous vocal support for capital punishment that she has since rowed back on, and opposition to LGBT equality policies.
She told an episode of BBC Question Time in 2011 that it would “act as a deterrent,” even if innocent people were killed.
“I do think that when we have a criminal justice system that continuously fails in the country and where we have seen murderers and rapists … reoffend and do those crimes, again and again, I think that’s appalling.”
After her appointment, she told Sky News it is “great honour” to be appointed saying: “I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe, our people secure, and also to fight the scourge of crime that we see on our streets.
“I look forward to the challenges that now lie ahead.”