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Home for a Buddhist: Suella Braverman, the Daughter of Tamil Mother and Goan Father, is UK’s New Home Secretary

Home for a Buddhist: Suella Braverman, the Daughter of Tamil Mother and Goan Father, is UK’s New Home Secretary

  • The 42-year-old attorney is “admired on the right for her attacks on progressive ‘woke’ activism.”

Suella Braverman, 42, a British attorney with Indian roots, is the new home secretary in newly appointed Prime Minister Liz Truss’ Cabinet, the first without white men in top jobs. In her new role, the newly appointed home secretary is responsible for overseeing UK borders, policing and counter-terrorism. She previously served as Attorney General between February 2020 and September 2022. She also served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union from January to November 2018.

The 42-year-old mother of two was one of the first to declare her candidacy to take over the Conservative Party, after the resignation of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. She pledged to cut taxes and stand up to “woke rubbish” but was voted out in the second round. The Associated Press reported that “despite her popularity among the party’s rank and file, she is much less popular among other Tory MPs, who eliminated her from the race for the party leadership in the third round of voting.” She then threw her support for Truss’ campaign. 

She was one of 28 so-called “Spartan” Tory MPs, who refused to back ex-prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal on all three occasions it was voted on in Parliament. As the AP noted, she is “admired on the right for her attacks on progressive ‘woke’ activism, but she is taking on one of the most difficult jobs in government.”

The daughter of a Tamil mother and a Goan father is among three newly appointed senior members of the Cabinet who are children of immigrants. Treasury Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s parents moved to the U.K. from Ghana; and foreign secretary James Cleverly’s mother emigrated from Sierra Leone.

“I’m a Conservative because we are the party that says it doesn’t matter where you start,” Braverman says on her website. “It’s about where you are going. You can make your life and that of others better by taking responsibility, self-empowerment and service. Aspiration, to me, means: rewarding endeavor, enabling compassion and liberating people from the shackles of the state.”

Another minister of Indian origin, Alok Sharma, 55, retained his job as president of COP 26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, a position he was appointed to on Jan. 8, 2021. As president, his responsibilities include chairing the Climate Action Implementation Cabinet Committee to coordinate government action towards net zero by 2050. He had attracted much praise for his handling of the COP26 Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last November in his advocacy for the global transition towards more sustainable and green energy sources.

Who is Suella Braverman

Suella (short for Sue Allen) Braverman was born in Harrow, northwest London. She grew up in nearby Wembley with her parents. Her Tamil mother, Uma, has her family roots in Mauritius and her Goan-origin father, Christie Fernandes, migrated to the UK from Kenya.

“My parents came to this country with very little in the 1960s, from Kenya and Mauritius,” she writes on her official profile. Her mother was recruited by the NHS as a girl of 18 and worked as a nurse for 45 years. Her father worked for a housing association. “My family was proud to serve their local community in Wembley, North West London, through local politics,” she writes. Her mother was a councilor for 16 years and her father was a campaigner for local people. “No problem was too small: whether it was trying to save the local library, or keep the local playing fields open or help a resident get a better home.”

After attending a local state school, she went to an independent school where she won a scholarship to help with school fees. She then studied law at Queens’ College, Cambridge University, followed by a Master’s in European and French Law (LLM) at the Pantheon-Sorbonne in Paris. She sat the New York Bar exams, qualifying as an Attorney in New York State. “This gave me a comparative insight into the legal, constitutional and political frameworks of Europe and the USA,” she says on her website. 

She married Rael Braverman at the House of Commons in 2018 and their children George and Gabriella were born in 2019 and 2021. She is a Buddhist. When she became an MP she took her oath of office on the book of Buddhist scripture Dhammapada.

Political Career

Braverman started her political career in 2005, contesting the general election from Leicester East where she finished in second place. She was elected as the Conservative MP for Fareham in May 2015. She has been a member of parliament ever since, having been re-elected in 2017 and then again in 2019.

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Since being elected, she has served on the Education Select Committee, as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Treasury, and a Brexit Minister, a post from which she resigned in November 2018 over the unacceptable terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. In February 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed her to serve as Attorney General.

According to Agence France-Presse, Braverman has held “the low-profile position of government legal adviser (“attorney general”) for the past year, as the British executive is mired in a legal battle over its plan to send illegal migrants back to Rwanda. This crucial plan for the ruling Conservatives, at a time when crossings of the English Channel in small boats are multiplying on the south coast of the country, is at the top of the pile of files left to her by Priti Patel, who preceded her in this position.” However, AFP predicts that “the battle is going to be tough. So far, the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights has prevented any expulsion of migrants, and the British justice system is currently examining the legality of the system.”

Alok Sharma

The Agra-born Sharma was previously Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Before that, he was Secretary of State for International Development and Minister of State for Employment at the Department of Work and Pensions. He was also a Minister of State for Housing and Planning, for the Department for Communities and Local Government. He was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from July 2016 to June 2017.

He has served as a member of the Commons Treasury select committee, a member of the Commons Science and Technology select committee, a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Treasury and from 2012 to 2015 as a Conservative Party Vice Chairman. He was appointed in 2016 as the Prime Minister’s Infrastructure Envoy to India.

He also served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP, the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who had overall responsibility for the Cabinet Office. He was elected as the Conservative MP for Reading West in May 2010.

Before entering Parliament, Sharma qualified as a chartered accountant with Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte and then worked for 16 years in banking, first with the Japanese firm Nikko Securities and then Enskilda Securities (the investment banking arm of SE Banken), where he held senior roles based out of London, Stockholm and Frankfurt, including serving as a member of the bank’s Corporate Finance Global Management Committee. He is married and lives in Reading Borough with his wife and two daughters.

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