On October 24 (Monday), British Politician Rishi Sunak won the election and became the Conservative Party leader and Britain’s next Prime Minister. Besides, his rival Penny Mordaunt did not succeed in securing hundred mandatory nominations from her fellow M.P.s, after which she retreated from the elections. As a result, Mr Sunak became the new PM of the United Kingdom; however, this was the second time that he contested for the coveted leadership.
In September 2022, Lizz Truss won the initial elections and aimed to bring about crucial policies and radical agendas to trigger economic growth. However, the proposals proved to be fatal as they triggered an immediate economic meltdown; ineffective party politics and the inability to introduce well-thought-out strategies were her other central follies.
On the other hand, Mr Sunak had been alerting the Party regarding the potential financial problems during the election process. Furthermore, while being the main opposition against Lizz Truss, he pointed out that her plan to borrow money during ongoing inflation could plunge the country into an unprecedented disaster.
But what made Mr Sunak the most eligible candidate to undertake the leadership of British Prime Minister? Let’s have a look.
Son of Immigrants
Rishi Sunak was born in Southampton on May 12 1980, to Indian parents Yashvir and Usha Sunak in East Africa. However, his grandparents were born in British India’s Punjab province but migrated to the U.K. from East Africa in the early 1960s with their children. Moreover, Mr Sunnak initially studied at Winchester College, then read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) in 2001 at Lincoln College, Oxford. Finally, with the help of the Fulbright scholarship, he completed his MBA from Standford University in 2006.
Mr Sunak began his professional career as an analyst for the investment bank, Goldman Sachs from 2001 to 2004; then, he worked for the hedge fund management firm called the Children’s Investment Fund Management. Subsequently, he became a partner in the firm in 2006, after which he joined a new hedge fund firm called Theleme Partners in 2010.
Later, he became a director of the investment firm Catamaran Ventures, an investment owned by his father-in-law (N.R. Narayana Murthy from 2013 to 2015).
The Conservative Party selected Mr Sunak as a candidate for Richmond (Yorks) in October 2014; the seat has been referred to as one of the crucial Conservative seats in the U.K. and has been held by the Party for over a hundred years. Following that same year, he became the head of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit of a centre-right think tank called Policy Exchange. Furthermore, in 2015, he succeeded in securing a seat as M.P. for the constituency at the 2015 general election with a majority of 19 550 votes (36.2 percent).
Mr Sunak continued to progress further in his political achievements as he was a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee between 2015 to 2017. Also, in 2015, when the Party first elected him as the M.P., his work and contribution earned him praise. Later in 2020, he became the Finance Minister or the Chancellor under the Boris Johnson government.
Mr Sunak was re-elected from his seat in the 2017 general elections. From 2018 to 2019, he served as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government. In 2019, he was appointed Chief Secretary to Treasury by Boris Johnson and also became a member of the Privy Council. He was re-elected in the 2019 general election.
However, on July 5, 2022, he resigned from his post along with minister Sajid Javid, indicating a lack of confidence in Johnson’s leadership.
Moreover, when the 2020 Pandemic caused severe nationwide health and economic consequences, he implemented strategic Covid support. For instance, he initiated furlough payments and the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme for restaurants. Also, he developed a budget that included £30 billion of additional spending, of which £12 billion was allocated to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consequently, his Covid measures to mitigate the economic decline were not well received because some workers could not qualify for the Treasury’s income support measures. For example, the Institute for Employment Studies estimated that 100,000 people could not be eligible for any government help as they started a new job too late to be included in the job retention scheme, while the British Hospitality Association informed the Treasury Select Committee that between 350,000 and 500,000 workers in its sector were not eligible.
Why is Rishi Sunak’s win a landmark victory?
Rishi Sunak’s win has gained worldwide attention not just because he is the first British-Asian Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. For instance, apart from his distinguished academic and professional accomplishments, his marriage has often been a topic of discussion.
Akshata Murty, daughter of the Indian Billionaire Narayan Murthy (co-founder of Infosys), is Mr Sunak’s wife; she studied economics and French at the private liberal Claremont McKenna College in California. Ms Murty then earned a diploma at a fashion college before working at Deloitte and Unilever and studying for an MBA at Stanford University.
When Ms Murty was studying at the University, she met Mr Sunak; after a brief courtship, the couple got married in 2009 and have two daughters. Besides she began her career in the finance sector in California, but years later, she started her fashion label, Akshata Designs, in 2011. Also, according to the company’s annual report, she owns a 0.9 percent stake in Infosys, which surmounts to £700m.
Therefore, being an heiress to a fortune that is worth billions brought her into the spotlight and media attention. For example, she held non-domiciled status, meaning she did not have to pay any tax on her earnings from outside the U.K.
However, this became a centre of significant controversy, so Ms Murty agreed to pay taxes on her worldwide income.
Regardless of his spouse’s wealth, Mr Sunak’s historical electoral win is a significant feat; he is the first Indian-origin British Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Also. It is noteworthy to point out that Britain once strived to colonize countries following its imperialistic ideals. However, the present victory is a major step in Britain’s development as a multicultural and multireligious society.
Besides, Mr Sunak is a Hindu and has never shied away from expressing his faith, such as wearing the sacred red thread on his wrist or keeping a Ganesh Idol on his table. Hence, this year’s Diwali brought a delightful gift concerning a significant victory.
In his speech, the 42-year-old PM said that he would work towards improving the UK-India relationship by making it a two-way exchange system. Moreover, he highlighted that he would ensure to open easy access to U.K. students and companies in India.