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Rishi Sunak-the rich and first Indian-origin British Prime Minister

Rishi Sunak is shiifting from No 3 to No 10

On October 24 Rishi Sunak was declared leader of the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party (Tory Party) is the ruling party of the United Kingdom. Sunak, 42, was born in Southampton, the UK to ethnically Indian parents who moved from Uganda. His father was a doctor and his mother was a pharmacist. Rishi is one of a trio of brothers.

Sunak is affable, unpretentious, ebullient, punctilious and honest. Even his implacable enemies find it hard to fault him. Many are envious of his USD 900 million fortune.

Sunak attended Winchester College which is in the top 3 British schools. Winchester was founded in 1381 by King Richard II and its motto is ''manners make the man''. It is a sentiment that Sunak has taken to heart as he is known to be exceedingly courteous. He ended up as the head boy. He was a Conservative supporter even in the 1990s when the party was deeply unpopular, especially with youngsters and particularly with ethnic minority Britons.

After school, Sunak went on to Oxford University. He studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He eschewed student politics and was awarded a first-class degree. This is partly because of totally abstaining from alcohol.

Rishi likes to stress his modest background and remind people he worked part-time as a waiter in an Indian restaurant whilst he was an undergraduate.

Upon graduation, Rishi's alpha mind was snapped up by Goldman Sachs. He was a self-made multimillionaire by the age of 30. He took time off to do an MBA at Stanford University, USA. There he met Akshata Murthy, the daughter of N R Narayanan Murthy the founder of InfoSys. They wed in India. The couple has been blessed with a brace of daughters.

Rishi obtained a US Greencard. He and his wife lived in California for 4 years where he continued to work in finance.

Rishi Sunak returned to the UK where he was selected as the Conservative candidate for Richmond (Yorkshire). This is an ultra-safe Conservative constituency. It has been in Conservative hands for over a century and was once held by the Conservative Party leader William Hague. Sunak was elected to the UK Parliament in 2015. As a Hindu, he took his oath on the Bhagavad Gita.

In 2016 Sunak campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union. He supported Boris to be Prime Minister in 2019.

Sunak rose fast in the government. Within 2 years of the election, he was Chief Secretary to the Treasury (deputy finance minister). In 2020 he became the Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister). He was Chancellor at an egregiously testing time because of the coronavirus. He is credited with having kept the economy afloat. Hardliners castigated him for being semi-socialist. But overall he won plaudits for his pragmatic and problem-solving economic stewardship.

In 2022 Rishi was fined for attending a party in lockdown. His wife's tax affairs were castigated. She was a tax resident in India whilst domiciled in the UK. This is perfectly legal but morally sub-optimal. She has since changed her tax residence to the UK. The golden couple was also savaged by the press for retaining their green cards as this is deemed indicative of divided loyalties.

In July 2022 Rishi resigned from the cabinet in protest at the prime minister's incessant mendacity. Boris Johnson was caught deceiving the public about his knowledge of allegations of sexual assaults on men by a Conservative MP Chris Pincher. Johnson joked ''pincher by name: pincher by nature.''

Most of the cabinet resigned and within 24 hours Johnson was obliged to resign as PM. He could not find enough Conservative MPs to fill the vacancies.

There was a bruising 2-month leadership election. Rishi won the round where MPs voted. The MPs narrowed it down from 8 candidates to 2 candidates. Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak went before the ordinary members of the party. 47-year-old white woman Liz Truss told the base what they wanted to hear: taxes would be slashed and this would lead to turbocharged economic growth.

There were some missteps in Sunak's campaign. He initially turned down a chance to address one of the largest Conservative associations in the country. But he rightly said Truss' economic plans were disastrous and could only end in tears.

Liz Truss won the leadership by 11% points. She became PM on 6 September. On 8 September the Queen died. The next two weeks were taken up with the Queen's obsequies. After that Liz unveiled her economic plan. Her tax cuts worried the markets. Interest rates rose vertiginously and the Conservative party's support plunged. The economic woes mounted and the Pound fell and fell.

The Tory Party was at panic stations. It looked like it was heading not just for defeat but annihilation in the next election. Tory's elder statesmen warned Liz Truss to change course. Every expert said her economic plan was disastrous.

The situation was so calamitous that Truss dismissed her Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng who is incidentally the first black person to hold that office. He was scapegoated. Truss appointed a more conventional Chancellor who performed volte-face on almost all of Truss' fiscal policies.

Truss's approval rating was at minus 70%. The party revolted. Many MPs demanded that she resign. After 6 weeks of immiseration, Truss was obliged to resign.

A leadership election was triggered. Scandal struck former PM Boris Johnson cut short a Caribbean holiday to come home to try to regain the leadership and thus the premiership. But not enough MPs nominated him. It was widely acknowledged that if the deeply damaged Johnson staged a comeback as PM, it would be a national disaster and the Tories would suffer a wipe-out at the next election. But the egomaniac did not care. Vainglory was all that actuated him.

Penny Mordaunt also sought the top job. She did not secure sufficient nominations either. Rishi will likely keep her in office as Lord President of the Privy Council and Leader of the House of Commons.

Rishi led from the first. Over two-thirds of his MPs backed him.

Rishi faces a very challenging situation because of the economic mess that his predecessor caused. His party is 30% adrift in the polls. There are demands to spend more money in various areas but the economic situation requires cutbacks. High energy prices and high-interest rates have caused grave economic pain.

The UK was amidst trade negotiations with India. India wants the United Kingdom to grant more work permits to Indians in return for more favourable trade agreements.

Can Rishi turn the situation around? The Tories have done it before. In 1957 they were far behind Labour but went on to win the 1959 election. In 1990 the Tories seemed doomed but they got a new PM and pulled off a shock election victory in 1992. Labour has lost 4 elections in a row. They will win eventually. The Tories sense that the Labour leader is capable and dangerous. As he is formidable, Sunak has a real problem ahead of him.

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TAGS:Boris JohnsonBrexitRishi SunakUK politicsBritish EconomyFirst Indian Origin British Prime MinisterLis Truss
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