Rishi Sunak’s ascension to prime minister a milestone for Britain

The president of the Hindu Temple set up by the new Tory leader’s grandfather has described it as “our Barack Obama moment”.

But these things in Britain are perhaps not amplified as much as they are elsewhere.

Sunak, glided through top public school Winchester College, Oxford University, Goldman Sachs, Stanford and a top hedge fund. That has become a well-trodden path to political power, regardless of race. Class, more than race, seems to be a determining factor in British politics.

Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murty (second and third from left) with then-Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murty (second and third from left) with then-Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.Credit:Getty

Sunak waited tables in a curry house as a youngster, and began his foray into finances by running the books for his mother’s pharmacy. He is married to Akshata Murty, a British-based Indian fashion designer, and Indian IT heiress.

The pair is worth around $1.378 billion. He now has to persuade Britons that economic austerity will be good for them.

In a radio interview about growing up as the son of immigrants, both born in Africa to Indian parents, Sunak recalled a moment in his teens where he and his younger siblings were taunted with the “P-word” – Paki.


“That stings in a way that is hard to explain really,” he told the BBC in 2020. “But particularly because my little sister was quite young, as was my brother, and you know, I just took them away and just removed ourselves from the situation.

“I think now… what’s amazing is I can’t conceive of that happening today. And I feel like even if it did happen… I bet you the people sitting at the table next door would probably stand up and say something. What Britain is today is really quite something to be proud of.”

Amid the chaos of British politics, it’s easy to forget just how extraordinary the rise of Sunak has been. Good-looking, petit and well-dressed, he became an MP only seven years ago. Four years ago, he was the most junior minister in the department for local government.

His star has risen quickly as other’s have fallen. But he does not have long to take it all in.


Although he won the overwhelming backing of Tory MPs, Sunak is a divisive figure in the Tory party, with many supporters of Boris Johnson accusing him of undermining his premiership when he quit as chancellor in July.

He now faces a daunting in-tray, including a crisis in the public finances, high inflation, stretched public services, industrial unrest, soaring energy bills and even the possibility of blackouts in the new year.

A fiscal conservative, Sunak has vowed to “fix the economy”, and promised in a statement on Sunday: “There will be integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level of the government I lead.”

As chancellor, Sunak put up taxes to try to restore order to public finances that were stretched by the COVID-19 pandemic.


But it is important to realise his political ideology is not that far away from Truss, who sent the markets tumbling with her pro-growth mini-budget which ultimately forced her to resign after just six weeks. Sunak, however, simply believed now was not the time to chase the radical growth agenda while inflation was soaring and government debt and deficit was out of control.

In just 84 seconds on Monday the new Conservative leader, who will be anointed prime minister by King Charles III on Tuesday evening Australian time, made it clear where his focus now was.

“We now need stability and unity and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together,” he said. “Because that is the only way we will overcome the challenges we face and build a better, more prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren.”

Perhaps he will get one night to reflect on his achievement because, having inherited a divided party, nation and a sick economy, he may well tomorrow regret having put up his hand.

But who does he support when England plays India at The Oval? England, of course.

“That was just a very natural thing for me to do.”

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