As Boris Johnson resigned this week. Many candidates announced their bids for the PM position. With the political crisis unfolding in the United Kingdom (UK), Rishi Sunak, the former finance minister, is one of the favorites to replace Johnson as the next British premier. If it happens the 42-year-old could become the first Indian – origin prime minister of the United Kingdom. Foreign secretary Liz Truss, Home secretary Priti Patel and Suella Braverman who is another Indian – origin MP are among other frontrunners for the PM post. Rishi Sunak resigned as finance minister on Tuesday stating that “the British public justly expects the government to function properly, seriously, and competently.” He was praised for a Covid-19 economic rescue package, consisting of an expensive jobs retention program that turned aside mass unemployment in the region. He has been under criticism after his wealthy background was revealed.
Born in the UK, on 12 May 1980, to Indian parents in Southampton. His parents emigrated from East Africa; Sunak was educated at Winchester College. He is the eldest of three siblings. His father Yashvir was born and raised in the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya, while his mother Usha was born in Punjab Province, British India. The father was a general practitioner, while the mother was a pharmacist who ran a local pharmacy. Rishi attended stroud School in Romsey, Hampshire, and Winchester College, a boy’s independent boarding school.
He studied philosophy, politics, and economics at Lincoln College, Oxford. Consequently, he gained MBA from Stanford University as a Fulbright scholar. while studying at Stanford, he met his wife Akshata Murty, who is the daughter of Infosys founder N.R Narayana. After successfully graduating, Rishi worked for Goldman Sachs and later as a partner at the hedge fund firms The Children’s Investment Fund Management and Theleme Partners. He was also a director of the investment firm Catamaran venture, owned by his father-in-law, Indian businessman N.R Narayana Murthy. The couple is blessed with two daughters. In 2022, Sunak and Akshata, together as a family were listed among the richest people in Britain.
Rishi Sunak’s Political Career
Sunak was selected as the conservative candidate for Richmond (Yorks) in October 2014. The seat has previously been held by William Hague, a former leader of the party, Foreign Secretary, and First secretary of state, who chose to stand down at the following general election. The seat was one of the safest seats in the UK and has been held by the party for over 100 years. During the same year, Sunak was head of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit of the center-right think tank policy exchange, for which he co-wrote a report on BME communities in the UK. He was then elected as MP for the constituency at the 2015 parliament he was a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee. Sunak supported the UK leaving the EU in June 2016 membership referendum. That same year he wrote a report for the Center for Policy Studies, a think tank supporting the establishment of free ports after Brexit, and the following year he wrote a report advocating the creation of a retail bond market for small and medium-sized enterprises.
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Sunak was then re-elected at the 2017 general elections, with an increased majority of 40.5%. He served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government between Jan 2018- July 2019. He voted for then PM Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement. He had also supported Boris Johnson in the 2019 conservative party leadership election and co-wrote an article in the Times newspaper with fellow MPs to advocate for Johnson during the June campaign.
Rishi was then appointed as the Chief Secretary to the treasury by Prime Minister Johnson on 24 July 2019, serving under Chancellor Sajid Javid. He became a member of the Privy Council the next day. He was then re-elected in the 2019 general election with an increased majority to 47.2%. Sunak was promoted to Chancellor on 13 February 2020 as part of a cabinet reshuffle after the resignation of his predecessor, Javid on the same day. On July 5th, 2022, Sunak resigned as chancellor moments after Sajid Javid resigned as the health secretary. His resignation began a historic wave of resignations from the government, which led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce his resignation as the party leader and the PM post. Coming from a diverse background, and from a wealthy family, Rishi Sunak has always been under the light of criticism but that didn’t affect the work he does for the public. Ever since Sunak took charge as Chancellor, there had been a lot of talks within the UK media about him eyeing the PM post. Regardless, the UK will have a new person in office from October and if Sunak wins, he might very well be the first Indian-origin man to run the country and the party.