Priti Patel (right) and Boris Johnson at the Hinduja Diwali party in 2017.


by AMIT ROY

PRITI PATEL, like Amber Rudd, has decided this is not the time for her to make a bid for the Tory leadership. Instead, she has decided to endorse Boris Johnson.

The British Indian MP who represents Witham has long been tipped as someone to watch, especially in the days when she was David Cameron’s “diaspora champion” for India. She might have run had she been in the cabinet, but prime minister Theresa May forced
her to resign as international development secretary. Being out of government has meant Priti has not had the profile needed for a credible leadership challenge.

Her replacement at international development was Penny Mordaunt, who is now the defence secretary. Mordaunt’s replacement, in turn, was Rory Stewart, the Etonian action
hero who has been quite an impressive candidate even though he is a bit of a Johnny come lately.

Should Boris win, Priti would expect to be rewarded with a reasonably senior job in the government.

In an article for The Sun, Priti said: “Boris also has a clear vision for a free, independent and self-governing Britain beyond Brexit, which shows that we believe in the potential of our great country.

“Boris has the character to lead the party and the country along this path to greater opportunities, success and prosperity.”

Priti reflects the view that only Boris has the nationwide popularity needed to beat both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, with the latter threatening to put the skids under the Tories at the next general election.

“Right now, there is only one candidate who can do this – Boris Johnson,” said Priti.

Known to be an admirer of India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, she will probably want to
help develop India-UK relations. She will be useful in that area, even though Modi wanted the UK to remain in the EU.

Priti’s time might yet come, especially if she has the support of the British Indian community. But to be Tory leader, she has to occupy the centre ground of politics. There is repair work to be done after the hard line she has taken over Brexit.