Priti Patel has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Witham constituency in The United Kingdom since 2010. She is now the Minister of State for Employment (appointed 11 May 2015), sitting in the British cabinet. Patel was born in London and educated at a local secondary school in Watford. She went on to study at Keele University in Staffordshire, where she read Economics, completing her postgraduate studies at the University of Essex.
Patel is particularly interested in business, trade and ensuring that British businesses flourish. Her political beliefs in this area were formed around her own experiences in business, from assisting her parents who have run a number of small businesses around the South East and East of England, to her career in the communications industry, where she worked in corporate communications for a variety of international companies.
With a somewhat chequered political past Patel has taken a hard route to the top, her rise certainly could not be attributed to tokenism. If anything, some have argued that Prime Minister David Cameron has taken on a bit of a risk due to Patel’s right wing views. She was famously ridiculed by Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye in a Question Time debate on the US’s execution of Troy Davis. Patel said at the time she would “support the reintroduction of capital punishment” on the grounds that “murderers and rapists and people who have committed the most abhorrent crimes go into prison but then are released back into the community to do those crimes again and again”. Whether or not her views have mellowed over time is not know, but it probably unlikely.
Patel has a long history in politics, she worked for the party as a press officer during Williams Hague’s time in office. This was not a time to join the Tories if you were interested in a long -term career. Before joining the Conservatives, Patel worked for the Referendum party, Sir James Goldsmith’s Eurosceptic party, leading up to the 1997 election.
As Minister of State for Employment Patel faces huge challenges around employment, unemployment, the Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme as well as; Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support and Childcare. Although a controversial figure, he grass roots knowledge of the party will enable her to rally the right people around her to tackle any challenges that arise over her term in office.