Beaten in early September by Liz Truss in the race for Downing Street, Rishi Sunak won his revenge on Monday by becoming the new British Prime Minister. The grandson of immigrants of Indian origin who joined the British elite through his studies, he became, at the age of 42, the first non-white head of government in the United Kingdom.
The wheel has turned for Rishi Sunak in less than 50 days. Beaten by Liz Truss in early September to succeed Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak was named on Monday, October 24 as the new Prime Minister of Great Britain.
While the budgetary measures announced at the end of September by Liz Truss set the markets on fire and caused the pound to fall to its historic low, Boris Johnson’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer remained extremely discreet.
However, Rishi Sunak had warned the Conservatives during the campaign this summer that his rival’s program was a “fairy tale” and that his massive tax cuts would lead to higher borrowing costs.
The storm in the markets and her unpopularity swept away Liz Truss, who resigned after 44 days in office.
Rishi Sunak had launched on Sunday in the race for his legacy after largely exceeding the number of required sponsorships. “I will fix our economy, unite our party and serve the country,” he wrote on Twitter.
The UK is a great country, but we are facing a deep economic crisis.
That’s why I’m standing as leader of the Conservative Party and your next Prime Minister.
I will fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country. pic.twitter.com/BppG9CytAK
—Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) 23 October 2022
The multi-millionaire Rishi Sunak, a former banker accused by some of being a technocrat out of touch with the people, is therefore back on the front page of the stage with top credibility.
To his supporters, Sunak’s message in the previous Downing Street campaign about the need for economic prudence to fight inflation showed that he is the man for the job. His budgetary prudence, because of which he had been considered too centered and too smooth, is now reassuring.
Already last summer, this conservative, grandson of Indian immigrants, was the preferred candidate of Tory MPs. But to Liz Truss he had paid for slamming the door on the Johnson government in early July, followed by around sixty colleagues. He has been accused of betraying Boris Johnson, with whom he is still at loggerheads. The party base, which had the final say, had preferred Liz Truss.
Rishi Sunak was elected MP for Yorkshire (Northern England) in 2015. Barely five years later, he took up the coveted post of Chancellor of the Exchequer at the age of 39, shortly before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. .
This early Brexit supporter gained popularity by handing out billions of pounds in government aid during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But his wealth, amassed during his career in finance and through his marriage to Akshata Murty, the daughter of an Indian multi-billionaire, sometimes interferes as the British tighten their belts.
Faced with this criticism, this fan of the Star Wars saga refers to his family history, a success story of conservatives like them.
“I am here thanks to my parents’ hard work, sacrifice and love”
Born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton, on the south coast of England, Rishi Sunak is the eldest of three children and the son of a GP in the public health system and a pharmacist. Born in India, his grandparents immigrated to British East Africa in the 1960s.
“My family immigrated here 60 years ago. (My mother) ran the local pharmacy in Southampton. That’s where I grew up, in the shop and delivering medicine. I worked as a waiter at the Indian restaurant down the street,” he said during the last leadership campaign. “I am here thanks to my parents’ hard work, sacrifice and love.”
However, Rishi Sunak quickly rose to the elite by attending Winchester College, a very smart boarding school for boys. He then studied politics, philosophy and economics at the prestigious universities of Oxford, England and Stanford, USA.
Before entering politics, he worked in finance, notably at Goldman Sachs, and founded his own investment firm.
This father of two daughters took an oath on the Bhagavad Gita, a Sanskrit text considered one of the foundational scriptures of Hinduism, when he was elected deputy in 2015.