London Gujarati immigrant named government spokesman in House of Lords

By Keval Dhokia

The first peer from London’s burgeoning Gujarati community, Lord Popat of Harrow, has been selected by the Prime Minister and approved by the Queen, as a government whip in the House of Lords, responsible for ensuring Conservative Lords vote in accordance with party policy and attend important debates, as well as speaking on behalf of the government on business and transport in the chamber.

The role will also make him a member of the Royal Household, associated with the public duties of the Royal Family, and he will remain a member of parliament’s Small and Medium Sized Enterprises committee, which scrutinises the government’s policy towards small businesses. Lord Popat made his career as an entrepreneur in the care services industry, culminating in the current TLC group, which runs six care homes and a Holiday Inn Express in Stratford, east London.

In a statement to the Asian Voice, Lord Popat wrote: “It is an absolute honour to have been appointed as government whip and to have the chance to serve in Her Majesty’s Government. I never imagined when I arrived in Britain forty years ago that I would be so fortunate and I feel very humbled by this appointment and I am grateful for all the good wishes that people have sent in the past week. I’m looking forward to the new challenge.”

The businessman-turned-politician cut short his trip to India, where he travelled with British businesses and trade diplomats to the Vibrant Gujarat summit, to return to the UK to take on his new role. Lord Popat’s press office confirmed to the Asian Voice that he met with Chief Minister Narendra Modi and discussed ways to strengthen ties between the UK and Gujarat, before leaving the gathering to come back to London.

The peer, along with Conservative MP Shailesh Vara, last year brought to national recognition the contribution that Ugandan Asian immigrants have made to British society, since their expulsion from the East African country in the early 1970s by President Idi Amin. Lord Popat is also Secretary of the Anglo-Asian Conservative Association and Chair of Conservative Friends of India.

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