People & Money

Rishi Sunak: Six Most Interesting Things About Britain’s First Minority Prime Minister

Rishi Sunak is set to become the 56th Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Sunak won the contest to replace Liz Truss, who resigned under pressure after her economic agenda triggered unprecedented market turmoil that she couldn’t recover from politically. Truss spent only 45 days as Prime Minister. Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt, the two other contenders in the race to succeed Truss withdrew, clearing the way for the emergence of Britain’s first minority Prime Minister.

“He was born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton to Yashvir Sunak, a medical doctor who was born in Kenya, and Usha, a pharmacist who was born in Tanzania”.

Who is Rishi Sunak? Here are six interesting things you should know about him.

  1. Twice migrant’ Background: Strong African Connections

The British have the Ugandan dictator, Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada to thank for giving them their first minority and first Hindu Prime Minister. Idi Amin on August 4th, 1972, ordered about 50,000 citizens of Asian origin to leave his country. The Indians’ crime was being very entrepreneurial and dominating business in Uganda.

Idi Amin
Idi Amin – Ugandan military officer and politician

In the 1890s, 32,000 of their ancestors left India to work as indentured labourers in Uganda, building the railway that linked Lake Victoria in Uganda to Mombasa, Kenya. Other Indians left to work in other British African colonies- Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, etc.

Asians expelled from Uganda
During the expulsion of Asians from Uganda

Some returned to India while others stayed and became traders and civil servants. Rishi Sunak’s grandparents and parents were part of the 50,000 Indians that Idia Amin sent away. Britain decided to give citizenship to a lot of them, including Rishi Sunak’s family. He was born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton to Yashvir Sunak, a medical doctor who was born in Kenya, and Usha, a pharmacist who was born in Tanzania.

  1. Rishi Sunak Married into Great Wealth

Sunak is said to be the richest man in the House of Commons. Most of his wealth is from his marriage to Akshata Murthy, daughter of Indian billionaire Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, a global I.T  pioneer. Narayana, according to Forbes, is worth $4.2 billion. Rishi’s wife owns a 0.93% stake in Infosys that is worth £690m. Akshata Murthy met Rishi Sunak while they were both studying at Stanford University. The couple is reported to own at least four properties, including a £7 million house in Kensington.

Rishi Sunak family
Rishi Sunak, his wife – Akshata Murthy and their kids

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  1. Rishi Sunak is a Veteran of Global Haute Finance

Sunak began his career at Goldman Sachs in London in the early 2000s, joining first as an intern and then getting a junior position in its investment banking division. He then moved to The Children’s Investment (TCI) Fund, one of London’s best-known hedge funds. Sunak was a partner at TCI between 2006 and 2009. The new Chancellor left TCI in 2009 to join the Theleme Fund, a breakaway hedge fund set up by one of TCI’s cofounders. Sunak was also a director of Catamaran Ventures, an Indian venture capital fund owned by his father-in-law. With his career in the elite strata of investment banking and finance, Rishi would have been one of the richest people in parliament even without marrying into the Murthy family. 

  1. At 42, Sunak is the youngest prime minister in a century

At 42, he is a year younger than the current record-holder, fellow Tory, David Cameron, who was 43 when he became PM in 2010. Tony Blair was also 43 when he became Prime Minister in 1997 but was a few months closer to 44 compared to Mr. Cameron when was elected Prime Minister

Outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss is 47. Only two other Prime Ministers since 1900 have taken office below the age of 50. They are John Major, who was 47 years old in 1990, and Harold Wilson who was 48 years old in 1964. Mr. Sunak is not the youngest British Prime Minister. That honor belongs to William Pitt the Younger who was famous for his youthfulness. He was just 24 when he first became PM in 1783.

  1. Sunak Had His Eyes on the Premiership While He was Minister of Finance

Sunak was given his first major role in the U.K. government in 2019 when Boris Johnson appointed him as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In 2020, Johnson named him Chancellor of the Exchequer. In that role, Sunak oversaw the UK’s COVID-19 economic strategy, directing aid for businesses, including the popular furlough payments to UK companies during the lockdown. Political pundits thought he designed and executed the pandemic economic package to position himself for a campaign to be Prime Minister.

Read Also: BIG READ – Why Asian-Nigerian Businesses Are So Successful

Sunak is credited or blamed, depending on whom you ask, for bringing down the crisis-prone Boris Johnson. His resignation as Johnson’s Chancellor of Exchequer triggered a wave of resignations that left Bojo no choice but to quit office. Johnson’s loyalists may yet make governing the party and country difficult for him by blocking his agenda in parliament.

  1. Prophet Rishi. Sunak Predicted Liz Truss’ Fiasco

Sunak clearly warned the British that Liz Truss’ plans for unfunded tax cuts would create market turmoil during his first unsuccessful campaign to be Prime Minister. This really bolstered his credibility because the market reacted exactly as he predicted.

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