Former London mayor and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson (L) walks across a carpark by the Houses of Parliament and Portcullis House in central London on June 28, 2016.
Popular British MP Boris Johnson is one step away from his dream of becoming Prime Minister, but the shadow of the ill-tempered EU referendum campaign looms large over his leadership bid. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS
Former London mayor and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson (L) walks across a carpark by the Houses of Parliament and Portcullis House in central London on June 28, 2016. Popular British MP Boris Johnson is one step away from his dream of becoming Prime Minister, but the shadow of the ill-tempered EU referendum campaign looms large over his leadership bid. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

London: Indian-origin Conservative Party MP Priti Patel, a vocal pro-Brexiteer who was among the candidates many expected to also contest, on Monday threw her support behind Boris Johnson instead. Patel’s decision came as the race for a new British PM to succeed Theresa May gathered pace on Monday, the deadline for all the candidates to file nominations.

Johnson, a former foreign secretary in the May Cabinet, is seen as a frontrunner to take over as Conservative Party leader and PM. Patel, a former UK international development minister, said she believes Johnson is also the right candidate to strengthen Britain’s bond with countries like India.

“Boris Johnson will bring a spirit of optimism and the ability to lift our standing in the world by strengthening the living bridge between our two great nations,” said the 47-year-old Patel. “It is about time we stren­gthen the political bonds between UK and India, following the recent decline. We must grow our bonds into a very special relationship built on centuries of diplomacy, trade and common values, and importantly, our people to people ties that continue to enrich our countries and links,” she said.

-Aditi Khanna

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