Sunak's Rise Highlights UK's Embrace of Diversity and Success of Indian Community

  • Arjun Pandit
  • Oct 24, 2022
  • The UK Conservative Party after months of wrangling and failed candidates finally gravitated to Rishi Sunak, former finance minister to lead the party and the divided nation. Sunak is also the first British-Indian and Hindu to become the UK prime minster.

    Rishi Sunak won the leadership race for the Conservative Party after Penny Mordaunt pulled out of the race just two minutes before the deadline and tweeted that Sunak had "her full support."

    Former prime minister Boris Johnson dropped out of the race on Sunday night, paving the way for Sunak to lead the party. 

    Sunak, 42-year old, will become 57th Britain's prime minister and the youngest to lead the nation in more than 200 years.  

    Ironically, Sunak won the leadership race on Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrated by millions around the world and marks the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. 

    Sunak was born in Southampton, UK and his Indian descent parents migrated to the UK in 1960s. 

    His father Yashvir was born in Kenya and his mother Usha, in Tanzania.  

    Sunak is the first British-Indian and Hindu to become prime minister of the U.K. and the leader of the Conservative Party, as the party and the island nation embrace cultural diversity after centuries of policies supporting racial divide.

    Sunak's astonishing rise to lead the party in just seven years was marked by his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer by Johnson just before the Covid pandemic. 

    Sunak won praise both from labor unions and businesses for launching the furlough scheme by subsidizing 11.6 million jobs. 

    But his support for the "eat out to help out" policy drew severe criticism from some health experts for fueling the spread of the deadly virus.  

    As finance minister, Sunak racked up government borrowing by £400 billion, the largest since World War Two,  and increased UK debt by one-third, at the depth of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2020. 

    Only a few months ago, Sunak was written off as a potential leader after questions swirled around his wife's tax status and he was seen as a "traitor" after his resignation as finance minister  from the Johnson administration, leading to an avalanche of cabinet resignations and the ultimate collapse of Johnson's administration. 

    A former Goldman Sachs analyst and a hedge fund manager, Sunak is believed to be the wealthiest member of Parliament.  

    Sunak awaits huge economic challenges as the UK faces 4-decade high inflation, cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine, skyrocketing public debt, and anemic economic growth for nearly a decade. 

    Sunak also faces mounting voter discontent after the Conservative Party's rule of more than 12 years. 

    Many voters are agitated and prefer a general election after the Conservative Party chaos led to the selection of the third prime minister since the 2019 election. 

    UK election rules do not require general election till the end of 2024, as long as the party in majority can form a government.  

    Financial markets welcomed the appointment of Sunak and the British pound held stable at $1.128 and the yield on the UK Gilt declined to 3.809%. 

    Sunak is expected to announce his cabinet appointment as early as this week as the government is scheduled to release details of its annual budget next Monday. 

     “There is no doubt we face profound economic challenges. 

    We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring my party and country together,” said Sunak in his first public address after the vote. 

    Sunak's first task will demand a balancing act between cutting popular spending and lifting unpopular taxes as the treasury shortfall is expected to rise  to £40 billion or $45 billion.