Who is Rishi Sunak, heir apparent to the British Prime Minister?
Rishi Sunak was seen as Boris Johnson’s natural heir, until he turned on the prime minister who put him in charge of Britain’s economy.
The former Treasury chief, who resigned earlier this month after questioning Johnson’s competence and ethics, is one of two final contenders to replace Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister – but he faces fierce opposition from Johnson and his allies, who consider him a defector.
Either Sunak or Liz Truss, who led the UK’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as foreign secretary, will be chosen in a ballot of 180,000 Tory members to be the new leader party. The winner will be announced on September 5 and will automatically become the new British Prime Minister.
See: Sunak and Truss face second round to become next UK leader
At 42, Sunak would be Britain’s youngest prime minister in over 200 years and the country’s first South Asian leader.
Sunak was born in Southampton, on the south coast of England, in 1980 to Indian parents born in East Africa. He grew up in a middle-class family, his father a family doctor and his mother a pharmacist. He described how his parents saved up to pay for a private education, and he attended Winchester College, one of Britain’s most invigorating and expensive boarding schools.
There, he mixes with the elite. Rivals recently unearthed an excerpt from a 2001 TV documentary about the class system in which 21-year-old Sunak said he had “friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper class , I have friends who are, you know, working class – well, not working class.
After high school, Sunak studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University – the degree of choice for future prime ministers – then earned an MBA at Stanford University.
He worked for investment bank Goldman Sachs and as a hedge fund manager and lived in the United States, where he met his wife, Akshata Murty. They have two daughters.
Returning to Britain, Sunak was elected to Parliament for the secure Conservative seat of Richmond, Yorkshire, in 2015 and held several junior ministerial posts before being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by Johnson in early 2020. , just before the pandemic hit.
A savvy low-tax politician who idolizes former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he nonetheless shelled out billions of government money to keep people and businesses afloat during the pandemic.
His furlough scheme, which paid the wages of millions of workers when they were temporarily laid off, made him the government’s most popular member – a ‘Dishy Rishi’ status spiced up with shrewd social media posts that put more emphasis on its own brand than on that of the government. .
Sunak’s sure-footedness has wavered over the years. Critics said a campaign to get people to eat in restaurants after lockdown restrictions were relaxed in the summer of 2020 contributed to another wave of COVID-19.
He was also faced with questions about his wealth and finances. His wife is the daughter of billionaire founder of Indian technology giant Infosys 500209,
and the couple are worth 730 million pounds ($877 million), according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
In April it emerged that Murty was not paying UK tax on his overseas earnings.
The statute was legal but it looked bad at a time when Sunak was raising taxes on millions of Britons.
Sunak has also come under fire for retaining his US green card – meaning an intention to move to the US – for two years after becoming UK finance minister. Sunak has been cleared of any wrongdoing, but the revelations still hurt.
Sunak was also fined by police, along with Johnson and around 50 others, for attending a party at the Prime Minister’s Office in 2020 which broke coronavirus lockdown rules. He said he attended inadvertently and briefly.
Sunak’s leadership campaign has been the most professional of any contestant, from a nifty launch video to a coterie of aides to muster support.
He has portrayed himself as the candidate for grown-up decisions and fiscal probity, calling his rivals’ tax cut plans reckless and promising to keep inflation under control.
He frequently mentions his political idol, Thatcher, but was nevertheless portrayed by his rivals as a left-wing politician, tax man and spendthrift, and was the victim of slander from Johnson’s allies.
Sunak is a popular candidate among conservative lawmakers, but must now win over the wider party, where his slick image could be an asset or a liability.
Steven Fielding, professor of political history at the University of Nottingham, says Sunak “acts like a chat host during the day”.