London: Indian-origin Suella Braverman is likely to be the only British politician of Indian heritage in the new Cabinet, if UK media speculations are to be believed that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is on course to beat Rishi Sunak to be elected Conservative Party leader and British Prime minister on Monday. Truss, 47, is said to be pencilling in her top team and is looking at elevating Braverman to replace Priti Patel as Home Secretary.
A contender in the early rounds of the Tory leadership contest, 42-year-old Goan-origin Braverman currently holds the post of Attorney General. She had thrown her weight behind Truss after being knocked out in the second round of ballots of fellow Tory MPs in mid-July and called on her supporters to follow suit.
“Liz is ready now to be PM. She won’t need to learn on the job. And the job is hard and needs to be done properly. The party has had a difficult six years and stability is urgently and swiftly needed, said Braverman at the time. She is set to be rewarded for her support with one of the high offices in the UK government, with Patel who has not openly declared her support for either Sunak or Truss set for a retreat to the backbenches.
On his future plans, Sunak has said he will support the Conservative government whatever the outcome and signalled that he is unlikely to serve in a Truss Cabinet. However, the supporters of the 42-year-old former Chancellor have insisted that he must be treated properly if Truss does indeed go on to take charge at 10 Downing Street. His talents do need to be used, a Tory member of Parliament told The Daily Telegraph.
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Another supporter told the newspaper that speculation that he would jet off to pursue a career in California was unfair. Certainly, in the private conversations I’ve had with him, he’s said that he intends to continue. I would guess he hasn’t decided what the future holds, the supporter said.
According to The Sunday Times in its what will Rishi Sunak do next analysis, the Indian-origin former minister’s choices range between resuming an investment banking career in the Silicon Valley, turning into a rowdy backbencher holding the new leader to account, backing off politics entirely or regrouping for a second go at the top job around the time of the next general election expected in 2024. If (Opposition) Labour ends up as the largest party I think he will reserve the right to go for it again, particularly if his percentage of the vote (in the present Tory leadership contest) begins with a 4 rather than a 3, a close supporter told the newspaper.
“The electorate will be very different in 2024, because a lot of the nutty people will be gone. Does he have the appetite to stand again and to go into Opposition for three or four years? He will be only in his mid-40s. Has he got flaws? Yes. Can he correct all that? Yes he can, the supporter added. Sunak’s allies remain convinced that Truss’ plans to slash taxes and borrow more for economic growth, while popular with 160,000 Tory members who voted in the current leadership election, will ultimately fail and leave the Conservatives in a crisis in time for the next election.
Among the other key posts in a Truss-led Cabinet, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng a close ally is being lined up as Chancellor of Exchequer and Education Secretary James Cleverly is to be promoted to Foreign Secretary. Other former leadership hopefuls like Pakistani-origin Sajid Javid are likely to get the portfolio of Northern Ireland Secretary and Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi will be shifted to the role of Cabinet Office minister.
A few incumbent ministers, such as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, are expected to retain their respective portfolios in a new Truss-led Tory government. While for the UK media the result seems to be a foregone conclusion, the Ready for Rishi camp will still be hanging on to a glimmer of hope for pre-poll forecasts and bookie’s odds to be proved wrong when the results are declared at 12.30 pm local time on Monday.