My biggest achievement was winning the trust of my constituents - says Ranil Jayawardena
Newly-elected British MP looks forward to building on the relationship.
Until news spread in the media during the run-up to the British general election that Ranil Jayawardena, Conservative Candidate for North East Hampshire, has been racially abused by Robert Blay, a UKIP candidate in the same constituency, not many Sri Lankans in the UK knew that a candidate of Sri Lankan origin was contesting this particular seat.
The key focus amongst Sri Lankans, until that point of time, were Chamali Fernando, Conservative candidate for Cambridge and Uma Kumaran, Labour candidate for Harrow East.
The outcome of the poll showed that of the contenders of Sri Lankan origin, only Ranil Jayawardena was able to romp home. He secured 35,573 votes averaging 65.9% — the highest number of votes among elected Conservative MPs.
Ranil Malcolm Jayawardena was born in London on September 3, 1986. He studied at Robert May’s School, Odiham, Alton College and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He has a brother and a sister.
His wife, Alison is a solicitor and they have a daughter, Daisy. He worked for Lloyds Banking Group and serves as a Member, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council – 2008 to 2015 (Cabinet Member 2011-2015 and Deputy Leader 2012-2015).
"I grew up, went to school and still live in North East Hampshire. The Halifax Quality of Life Index has named it as the ‘Best Place to Live in the UK’, and I want to keep it that way. For me, it is all about representing my constituents and making sure their views are heard", he said in an interview with Sri Express.
On his achievements so far, the young MP said: "As a Councilor, I was responsible for the regeneration of Basingstoke, a large town in North Hampshire. It’s great to see that it’s now going from strength to strength. I was also pleased that the Council was able to freeze council tax for six years, ensuring the residents got the best financial deal possible.
"My biggest achievement has been winning the trust of my constituents. I’m looking forward to building on that relationship".
Q: You are described as the first possible Asian Prime Minister in Britain. Have you got any goals?
As a new Member of Parliament, I’m still finding my feet and concentrating on the day-to-day tasks. I am grateful to be under the leadership of David Cameron, whose strengths were proven yet again when the Conservative Party won an outright majority at the recent election.
Q: Have you visited Sri Lanka or India?
I have been to both countries, but it was a long time ago.
Q: Would you like to comment on the Robert Blay incident and your refusal to shake hands with him after the results were announced?
I was shocked to hear Blay’s comments and that someone who holds this type of views could have been selected as a suitable candidate for any kind of public office, let alone Parliament.
My family believes in hard work. My father came to the UK to do just that. He has contributed to society as a Magistrate and I am to do the same as a Member of Parliament. I am dismayed but not surprised that Blay has refused to apologize for his remarks.
Q: What are your future plans?
I will serve my constituents and demonstrate that they were right to place their trust in me. I will work with the Conservative government to secure a better future for them, their families and our country.
Ranil’s father Nalin Jayawardena said that he came to England in the latter part of the 1970s to finish his accountancy exams. After completing his studies, he worked as a financial regulator. Later, he started his own Financial Consultancy firm.
He met his wife Indira, who is of Indian origin, in the UK. She did her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She works as an Educational Welfare Officer in Hampshire County Council. Ranil is the eldest child. He has a sister, Thushani and a brother, Ravindra.
"Our ancestors had a lot of connections to politics in Sri Lanka. Henry Jayawardane was a Village Council Chairman for Munwatta in the Bulathsinhala electorate. Daisy Abeywickrema had three brothers in politics.
Her elder brother, Simon Abeywickrema, won Udugama electorate and was a Deputy Minister in the D. S. Senanayake government. Her second brother, Henry Abeywickrema won Baddegama electorate and was the Deputy Minister for Transport in SWRD Bandaranaike government. Daisy’s youngest brother Vincent Abeywickrema was a village headman.
By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London