Indian-origin MPs all set to gear up for tough UK Poll fight

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Westminster, Source: Wikimedia

London, May 17, 2017: Britain’s June 8 polls are approaching and the major political parties have finalised their list of prospective candidates. Also, the ten Indian-origin MPs who went through the House of Commons in the last UK general elections are all set for a robust competition.

Over a period of time, many of those elected in May 2015 are defending comfortable margins, the changed Brexit reality since the last election means a heightened sense of ambiguity.

In keeping with opinion polls, the ruling Conservative party is considerably anticipated to have a majority under the leadership of UK Prime Minister Theresa May and make an incursion into the Opposition Labour.

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The Liberal Democrats, who faced a heavy loss back in 2015 are hoping to restore their stand by focusing only on a confined number of anti-Brexit constituencies.

Among the MPs possibly to hail the Brexit surge will be Priti Patel, UK secretary of state for international development – the senior-most Indian-origin member of the UK Cabinet.

The Tory MP for Witham is defending a large majority of 19,554 (41.5 percent) in a Conservative party haven. She was also amongst the MPs who campaigned vigorous in support of Brexit and had accentuated it was ideal for Britain.

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She has a strong backing within the Indian diaspora. She has also served as the Indian Diaspora Champion under the David Cameron-led government previously.

“The Indian diaspora in the UK are fantastic at keeping this relationship strong and work hard every day to support the UK and India reach our potential,” Patel said.

Her Conservative party colleague, India-born Alok Sharma, the minister in charge of India in the UK Foreign Office, faces a relatively tighter elective havoc as he defends a majority of 6,650 (14 percent) in his Reading West constituency.

“The UK-India ties are the ‘living bridge’ between our people, supported by 1.5 million British Indians who make up our successful and vibrant diaspora community. I have the honour to represent the government on UK-India affairs and am proud to see our partnership go from strength to strength,” he said.Shailesh

Shailesh Vara, another senior Indian-origin Tory who served as justice minister in the David Cameron-led government and is currently the co-chair of the Conservative Friends of India (CFI), defends a large majority of 19,795 (32.4 percent) in North West Cambridgeshire.

Among the Tory party newcomers in the last Parliament, Rishi Sunak – the son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy – is in a Tory safe seat of Richmond.

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London-born and Goan-origin Suella Fernandes are also supporting a comfortable majority of 22,262 (40.7 per cent) in Fareham. The Hampshire-born, former Goldman Sachs analyst won the Richmond, Yorks, seat in 2015 by 19,550 (36.2 per cent).

The Opposition Labour party MPs comprise two of the longest-serving Indian-origin parliamentarians – Keith Vaz and Virendra Sharma.

While Vaz had a tumultuous year in 2016 with revelations around an alleged relationship with male prostitutes, his reputation in Leicester East seems to be competent with a previous lead of 18,352 (38.2 per cent). He has embraced the chance to go back to voters in the snap poll next month.

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“Theresa May was right to call a General Election. It is important any Prime Minister has a mandate from the British people before they begin the Brexit negotiations with the EU,” he said. “But this is not just about Brexit, it is about the vision of what kind of country we want to live in. This is an opportunity for the political parties to set out clearly how Britain will change for the better. I believe the Labour Party has the answer,” he told PTI.

His sister Valerie Vaz has an intricate fight at hand in her Walsall South constituency in the West Midlands where she won the last time with a margin of just 6,007 (14.4 per cent).

Fellow Labour MP Sharma, who is defending a majority of 18,670 (43.3 per cent) in Ealing Southall, west London, also welcomed the elections.

“It will give the country a chance to have their say on the divisive policies and hard Brexit that Theresa May is pursuing. The Prime Minister has called this election because she is scared of the Opposition that the Labour Party is mounting in Parliament,” he said.

“In Ealing, Southall we will speak to thousands of people, we will speak to the people that are being hurt by Tory policies and we will see that there is no support for a hard Brexit that punishes working people,” he added.

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The other Indian-origin Labour MPs Lisa Nandy and Seema Malhotra are supporting 14,236 (31.4 per cent) in Wigan and 11,463 (23.2 percent) in Feltham & Heston respectively.

The conservatives have covered another first-time Indian-origin candidate Resham Kotecha in Coventry North East but have come under some flak for not having adequate ethnic minority candidates on the list this time.

“The Conservative Party has a proud record of ensuring candidates from all walks of life stand for Parliament,” a party spokesperson said.

The Labour Party has over a dozen Indian-origin candidates on its list of proposed candidates concluded this week.

– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter: @Nainamishr94