New Delhi: Former finance minister and Indian-origin leader Rishi Sunak on Wednesday (July 13, 2022) won the biggest backing from Conservative lawmakers in the first vote to choose who will succeed Boris Johnson as party leader and UK prime minister. Sunak, 42, secured support from 88 of the party’s 358 MPs, while junior trade minister Penny Mordaunt was second with 67 votes and foreign minister Liz Truss with 50 votes was third. Those remaining also include former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, Attorney General Suella Braverman, Tom Tugendhat, chair of parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Nadhim Zahawi, who took over as finance minister from Sunak last week, and former foreign minister Jeremy Hunt were knocked out after failing to get the required minimum of 30 votes.
Subsequent ballots will be held among the Conservative lawmakers, eliminating the candidate with the fewest votes each time, to whittle the field down to a final two by July 21. The new leader will then be chosen from those two by the 2,00,000 Conservative party members in the country at large, and be announced on September 5.
Who is Rishi Sunak, the frontrunner to be Britain’s next PM?
Rishi Sunak, the frontrunner to be UK’s next PM, was born to an Indian family on May 12, 1980, in Southampton, United Kingdom. His family had migrated from India to Britain in the 1960s.
I’m standing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister.
Let’s restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country. #Ready4Rishi
He has studied at Winchester College, Oxford University, and Stanford University. Sunak has also enjoyed a successful business career and worked with companies from Silicon Valley to Bangalore.
Rishi Sunak is son-in-law of Indian billionaire Narayana Murthy
The 42-year-old is the son-in-law of Indian billionaire NR Narayana Murthy, founder of Indian outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd. He met Akshata Murthy in California where he lived for several years before returning to the UK. They have two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka.
Recently, Akshata Murthy was also seen serving tea to journalists who were waiting for Sunak after Boris’ resignation.
After his shock resignation last night, Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murthy brings out a round of tea for journalists waiting for him to show his face. pic.twitter.com/Yt8ldN2aX9
— ITV News Calendar (@itvcalendar) July 6, 2022
Rishi and his wife Akshata had entered The Sunday Times UK Rich List at number 222 with a reported net worth of 730 million pounds, according to a report in May.
Rishi Sunak’s political career
In July 2019, he was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury and entered Government service as the Minister for Local Government in January 2018.
“I grew up watching my parents serve our local community with dedication. My dad was an NHS family GP and my mum ran her own local chemist shop. I wanted to make that same positive difference to people as their Member of Parliament,” Sunak has said on his website.
Sunak, who became finance minister in February 2020, was praised for a rescue package for the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic, including a jobs retention programme, which prevented mass unemployment, that could cost as much as 410 billion pounds ($514 billion). He, however, has also faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households, and a fine he received, along with Boris Johnson, for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules. His tax-and-spend budget last year reportedly put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undermining his claims to favor lower taxes.
In his spare time, he enjoys cricket, football and movies.
It is noteworthy that Boris Johnson, who won a large majority in December 2019, announced last week that he would step down after a torrent of resignations from his ministers and with many Conservative Party lawmakers in open revolt.
The public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously.
I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning.
My letter to the Prime Minister below. pic.twitter.com/vZ1APB1ik1
— Ready For Rishi (@RishiSunak) July 5, 2022
Whoever wins will face a daunting in-tray while having to rebuild public trust bruised by a series of scandals involving Johnson. Britain’s economy is facing rocketing inflation, high debt, and low growth, leaving people grappling with the tightest squeeze on their finances in decades.
(With agency inputs)