Sajid Javid, a rising star in the Conservative party, was promoted as business secretary in David Cameron’s new cabinet this week, after a shock election victory gave the Tories an outright majority in parliament for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Witham MP Priti Patel, the new employment minister, was among the five other Asians who have taken up roles in government departments.
Patel, whose father left Uganda in the 1970s for a new life in the UK, is the first British Indian woman to sit in cabinet meetings.
Javid, the MP from Bromsgrove, is a former banker who gave up a glittering career in the City for politics. He has been considered by many to become Cameron’s successor.
Both Patel and Javid have been dubbed Thatcherites.
Cameron, who unveiled his new-look, all-Conservative cabinet on Tuesday (12), has picked more women, ethnic minorities and ministers from working class backgrounds as the party attempts to broaden its appeal in a multiracial Britain.
In other appointments, Shailesh Vara remains justice minister, a role he held in the previous administration.
Baroness Sandip Varma is parliamentary under-secretary of state in the department for international development, as does Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, who is parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Home Office (jointly with the department for transport).
Lord Dolar Popat of Harrow retained his position as government whip, and lord-in-waiting for the department for business, skills and innovation and the department for transport.
Javid, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, was in November last year named as Britain’s most influential Asian in the GG2 Power 101.
In the previous coalition government, Javid was the secretary of state for culture, media and sport.
Setting out his plans for office, Javid said on Tuesday (12): “I believe passionately in free enterprise, that free enterprise is the lifeblood of any successful economy. My decisions for creating more jobs… creating investment in the economy will be looking towards free enterprise and what more deregulation we can have.
“What we do know is that sometimes when government creates new rules and regulations, they make things worse, not better,” Javid added.
“We are clearly on the side of business and as a government we can help make a better environment for business because it’s those businesses by and large that create jobs.”
The father-of-four, who studied economics and politics at Exeter University, is taking over from Liberal Democrat Vince Cable in the coalition government. Cable lost his seat as MP last week.
British Gujarati Patel, a mother-of-one, was elevated to the new job after a successful spell as exchequer secretary to the Treasury under chancellor George Osborne.
In her new role, she will be working closely with work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith.
“I want to continue to ensure our welfare reforms are giving people the skills and opportunities to move into work, whether that’s work experience for young people to get their foot on the career ladder, the benefit cap encouraging people to get a job or the work programme which is helping more people than any previous jobs scheme,” Patel said.
As well as Asians getting top jobs in Cameron’s new cabinet, a record number of ethnic minority candidates were elected into parliament in what was described as a “historic” night for minorities during the unexpected general election results.
A total of 42 black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) MPs entered the new parliament this week, up from 27 in 2010.
Of the 2010 intake, 25 retained their seats while Paul Uppal and Anas Sarwar were among those who failed to gain enough votes in Wolverhampton South West and Glasgow Cental to return to Westminster.
A total of 16 new minority MPs joined the government – eight for the Labour party, seven for the Tories, and one SNP MP, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.
Leading the way in diversity is Labour, who now have 23 minority ethnic MPs, compared with 17 for the Conservatives.
Simon Woolley, the director at campaigning group Operation Black Vote, said: “We have got a historic record of black and minority ethnicity politicians who have gone up to 42 from 27.
“The second part of that historic breakthrough is not only the largest number, of course; it is also the largest number entered in any one parliament. We’ve gone up from 12 to 16.”
Veteran MPs Keith Vaz, Sadiq Khan, Seema Malhotra, Khalid Mahmood, Shabana Mahmood and Rushanara Ali and Virendra Sharma (all Labour) and Shailesh Vara (Conservative) kept their seats in the Commons.
Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, the niece of Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina, won a majority of 1,138 votes in Hampstead and Kilburn, taking the mantle from Glenda Jackson who held the seat from 1992.
In another tightly fought contest in the capital, first time Labour MP Rupa Huq was victorious in Ealing Central & Acton, winning the seat from Tory candidate Angie Bray.
Rishi Sunak, a 34-year-old Conservative, succeeded the veteran Tory William Hague in Richmond Yorkshire, and Naz Shah is the new representative for Bradford West after a high-profile battle where she defeated George Galloway of Respect.
Not all first-time Asian candidates were celebrating, however, despite their efforts to secure victory. Uma Kumaran, who went head to head with Bob Blackman in Harrow East, lost out on the night despite Labour pulling out all the stops in the bid to win back the marginal seat.
Kishan Devani was defeated by the longest-serving Asian MP Keith Vaz in Leicester East, and Resham Kotecha came second in Dame Tessa Jowell’s old seat of Dulwich and West Norwood, which was won by Helen Hayes.