Less than two months after his loss to Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak has this time succeeded in becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He succeeds the one who only made a quick trip to Downing Street. His designation was formalized on Monday, October 24 by the Conservative Party. Penny Mordaunt, her only rival in the race, admitted her defeat on Monday.
— Penny Mordaunt (@PennyMordaunt) October 24, 2022
Rishi Sunak is finally the only one to have gathered the support of at least 100 conservative parliamentarians, the threshold necessary to participate in the internal election of his party. For his part, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, tempted by a return to power, finally threw in the towel. Franceinfo summarizes five things to know about the new strongman of the United Kingdom.
1His political rise is meteoric
Elected to Parliament in 2015, Rishi Sunak has become in a few years one of the most popular Conservative MPs in the country. Quickly proving very favorable to Brexit during the referendum campaign in 2016, he won the favor of Boris Johnson who retained his commitment. Having become Prime Minister, the latter appointed him Chancellor of the Exchequer, the British equivalent of the Minister of Finance and Budget, in February 2020, when he was not yet 40 years old.
Immediately confronted with the Covid-19 crisis, this supporter of budgetary austerity must get down to the preparation of a rescue plan of 350 billion pounds (403 million euros), ensuring on several occasions: “We will do what it takes”. His mastery of the files and his reputation make him one of the competitors of Boris Johnson, with whom the relationship is strained. In July 2022, he was one of the first to resign from the government, citing “too different fundamental approaches”. Weakened by the “Partygate”, dropped by too many ministers, Boris Johnson will finally throw in the towel two days later.
The next day, Rishi Sunak declared himself a candidate to lead the Tories and thus become Prime Minister. It is there that he will finally experience his first failure, the members of the conservative party preferring Liz Truss to him, whereas he was supported by a majority of the parliamentarians of his camp.
2He comes from the best universities
Coming from a family from India who arrived in the UK in the 1960s, Rishi Sunak explains that his parents “really sacrificed” So he can “going to the best universities”. “I had the good fortune to study at Winchester College, Oxford and Stanford”, he writes on his website. These prestigious establishments have changed his life, he says, opening up international horizons for him.
It was at Stanford University in California that he met his wife Akshata Murty, the heiress of one of India’s richest businessmen. The couple lived for several years in the United States before settling in the United Kingdom. They are the parents of two daughters.
3He took his first steps in finance
After prestigious studies, Rishi Sunak began his career at the investment bank Goldman Sachs, as a junior analyst. He then continued his career in several investment funds, including the Children’s Investment Fund, “one of the most prominent hedge funds in London”explain The echoes. A journey that has allowed him to build up a very important heritage. In July, the combined fortune of the ex-minister and his wife was estimated at more than 840 million euros by the British daily The Sunday time (link in English and reserved for subscribers).
Above all, this career convinced him to commit to liberal economic reforms. “I understand from my own experience why politicians need to support free enterprise and innovation to ensure prosperity in the future.” he says on his website.
4His wife’s financial situation has been the subject of controversy
In April 2022, while he is Minister of Finance, Rishi Sunak sees the situation of his couple exposed to the general public. The British newspaper The Independent (in English) reveals his wife enjoys ‘non-domiciled’ tax status in the UK, saving her millions of pounds in tax.
In the midst of an inflationary crisis, the opposition took the opportunity to attack the Conservative minister. “It’s legal, but is it fair?”questions in particular the Labor Ed Miliband on the Sky News channel (in English). “It is the UK finance minister asking people to pay more tax. (…) I believe that Rishi Sunak and his family should think about it.”
5He is a victim of racism in his own camp
Rishi Sunak is the first Briton of Indian origin to become head of government. His skin color earned him attacks including some supporters of his party. The newspaper Release (link reserved for subscribers) recounts the racist tirade, Saturday on British radio LBC, of a Tory voter convinced that “Rishi is not really British”. “Oyes, 85% of the English are white and they want to see a Prime Minister who looks like them”assured this man presenting himself as a member of the conservative party.