by LAUREN CODLING
A NEWLY APPOINTED Asian peer has said he wants to use the opportunity to develop “positive relations” between India and Pakistan.
Businessman Dr Rami Ranger was nominated by former prime minister Theresa May in her resignation honours list to serve as a life peer in the House of Lords. He is among ten others who were nominated by the former prime minister for peerage after she stepped down as the leader of the Conservative Party in the summer.
Speaking to Eastern Eye on Tuesday (10), when the peerages and other resignation honours were announced, Dr Ranger said he was “humbled and delighted” by the news.
Dedicating his peerage to “peace between India and Pakistan”, Dr Ranger said he hoped his influence could be used to bring together communities from the two nations.
“If we are divided in the subcontinent, then we are also divided in Great Britain and other countries where we have large numbers (of Indians and Pakistanis),” he said. “This is a cause that is very close to me.”
Dr Ranger, who acts as chairman of the Conservative Friends of India and of the British Sikh Association, added that his family were “over the moon” when they heard the news.
“My family are all so happy,” he said. “I am very grateful to Theresa May for considering me to be worthy of this great honour.”
British Pakistani businessman Zameer Choudrey was also nominated by the former prime minister. Choudrey, the chief executive of Bestway, called the peerage “an immense honour”.
“I am truly humbled to have been appointed to the House of Lords,” he said. “I have always viewed the UK to be the land of opportunity and I look forward to contributing to the continued advancement of our great country.”
Choudrey, who acts as chairman of Conservative Friends of Pakistan, was previously appointed with a CBE in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List for services to industry and philanthropy.
Both Dr Ranger and Choudrey have donated to the Tory party in the past and were vocal supporters of May while she was the prime minister.
Raoul Ruparel, former adviser to the prime minister on Europe, was handed an OBE on the resignation honours. The author is also the co-director of Open Europe, an organisation who produce recommendations on the UK’s relationship with the EU and its trading relationships with the rest of the world.
Among other recipients of the resignation honours was the founder and director of pressure group Operation Black Vote.
Sir Simon Woolley was also appointed as a life cross bench peer.
Woolley, who was named as a Knight of Realm in June, said being appointed as a peer would “take a bit of getting used to”.
Recalling his last meeting with May while she was prime minister, Woolley said she did not disclose her decision to appoint him to the Lords.
“But I should have read between the lines during our chat,” Woolley, the advisory chair of the government’s racial disparity unit, said.
According to him, May had told him: “The work you’ve done with the Race Disparity Unit has to continue. Together Simon, we’ve built a foundation that will help transform government departments and deliver better policies to tackle racism.”
He learned days later of her decision. She had apparently chosen him due to his extensive work in tackling race inequality and “to help him continue his work at the highest level”.
Speaking of his goals for the future, Woolley said that he hoped to focus on tackling persistent race inequality, politically empower communities, and continue to “offer talented BAME individuals pathways to the highest political and civic offices in the land”.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn nominated Debbie Wilcox, leader of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), to become a Labour peer while the co-leaders of the Green Party nominated former leader Natalie Bennett.
Other nominees included: Lady Justice Hallett; senior British diplomat Sir Kim Darroch; Chief executive of Stonewall, Ruth Hunt; former Downing St special advisor Elizabeth Sanderson and chairman of the Welsh Conservatives Byron Davies