Rishi Sunak - British Prime Minister

Rishi Sunak born 12 May 1980) is a British politician who has served as Prime Minister-designate of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since 24 October 2022. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2020 to 2022 and Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2019 to 2020. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Richmond (Yorks) since 2015.

Sunak was born in Southampton to parents of Punjabi Indian descent who migrated to Britain from East Africa in the 1960s. He was educated at Winchester College, read philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Lincoln College, Oxford, and gained an MBA from Stanford University in California as a Fulbright Scholar. While studying at Stanford, he met his future wife Akshata Murty, the daughter of N. R. Narayana Murthy, the Indian billionaire businessman who founded Infosys. Sunak and Murty are the 222nd richest people in Britain, with a combined fortune of £730m as of 2022. After graduating, Sunak worked for Goldman Sachs and later as a partner at the hedge fund firms the Children's Investment Fund Management and Theleme Partners.

Sunak was elected to the House of Commons for Richmond in North Yorkshire at the 2015 general election, succeeding William Hague. Sunak supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. He was appointed to Theresa May's second government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government in the 2018 reshuffle. He voted three times in favour of May's Brexit withdrawal agreement. After May resigned, Sunak supported Boris Johnson's campaign to become Conservative leader. After Johnson was elected and appointed Prime Minister, he appointed Sunak as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Sunak replaced Sajid Javid as Chancellor of the Exchequer after his resignation in the February 2020 cabinet reshuffle.

As Chancellor, Sunak was prominent in the government's financial response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, including the Coronavirus Job Retention and Eat Out to Help Out schemes. He resigned as chancellor on 5 July 2022, followed by Johnson's resignation amid a government crisis. Sunak stood in the Conservative party leadership election to replace Johnson, and lost the members' vote to Liz Truss. Following Truss's resignation amid another government crisis, Sunak was elected unopposed as Leader of the Conservative Party and is set to become the next British prime minister.

Early life and education

Sunak was born on 12 May 1980 in Southamptonto African-born Hindu parents of Punjabi Indian descent, Yashvir and Usha Sunak. He is the eldest of three siblings. His father was born and raised in the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya (present-day Kenya), while his mother was born in Tanganyika (which later became part of Tanzania). His grandfathers were born in Punjab province, British India, and migrated from East Africa with their families to the UK in the 1960s. His paternal grandfather, Ramdas Sunak, was from Gujranwala (in present-day Pakistan) and moved to Nairobi in 1935 to work as a clerk, where he was joined by his wife Suhag Rani Sunak from Delhi in 193. His maternal grandfather, Raghubir Sain Berry MBE, worked in Tanganyika as a tax official, and had an arranged marriage with 16-year-old Tanganyika-born Sraksha, with whom he had three children, and the family moved to UK in 1966, funded by Sraksha selling her wedding jewellery. 

Sunak attended Stroud School, a preparatory school in Romsey, Hampshire, and Winchester College, a boys' independent boarding school, where he was head boy. He was a waiter at a curry house in Southampton during his summer holidays. He read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Lincoln College, Oxford, graduating with a first in 2001. During his time at university, he undertook an internship at Conservative Campaign Headquarters. In 2006, he gained an MBA from Stanford University, where he was a Fulbright scholar.
Business career

Sunak worked as an analyst for the investment bank Goldman Sachs between 2001 and 2004. He then worked for hedge fund management firm the Children's Investment Fund Management, becoming a partner in September 2006. He left in November 2009 to join former colleagues in California at a new hedge fund firm, Theleme Partners, which launched in October 2010 with $700 million under management. At both hedge funds, his boss was Patrick Degorce, He was also a director of the investment firm Catamaran Ventures, owned by his father-in-law, the Indian businessman N. R. Narayana Murthy between 2013 and 2015.
Early political career
Member of Parliament

Sunak was selected as the Conservative candidate for Richmond (Yorks) in October 2014, defeating Wendy Morton. The seat was previously held by William Hague, a former leader of the party, Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State. The seat is one of the safest Conservative seats in the United Kingdom and has been held by the party for over 100 years.  In the same year Sunak was head of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit of centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, for which he co-wrote a report on BME communities in the UK. He was elected as MP for the constituency at the 2015 general election with a majority of 19,550 (36.2%).  During the 2015–2017 parliament he was a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.


In the weeks before Sunak's appointment as chancellor of the Exchequer, press briefings suggested that a new economic ministry led by Sunak might be established to reduce the power and influence of Chancellor Javid at the Treasury. Sunak was considered a Johnson loyalist, favoured by Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and was seen as the "rising star" that had ably represented Johnson during the 2019 election debates. In February 2020, The Guardian reported that Javid would remain in his role as Chancellor and that Sunak would remain chief secretary to the Treasury, so that Cummings could "keep an eye" on Javid.

On 13 February, Sunak was promoted to chancellor as part of a cabinet reshuffle. Javid had resigned that day following a meeting with Johnson. During the meeting, Johnson had offered to keep his position on the condition that he dismiss all of his advisers at the Treasury, to be replaced with individuals selected by Cummings. Javid told the Press Association that "no self-respecting minister would accept those terms". Some political commentators saw Sunak's appointment as signalling the end of the Treasury's independence from Downing Street, with Robert Shrimsley, chief political commentator of the Financial Times, arguing that "good government often depends on senior ministers – and the Chancellor in particular – being able to fight bad ideas".

Sunak at a press conference on 20 March 2020 with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries

Sunak as Chancellor in April 2020, in a video concerning government support for businesses amidst COVID-19

On 17 March 2020, Sunak introduced a programme providing £330 billion in emergency support for businesses, as well as a furlough scheme for employees. This was the first time a British government had created such an employee retention scheme. The scheme was introduced on 20 March 2020 as providing grants to employers to pay 80% of a staff wage and employment costs each month, up to a total of £2,500 per person per month. The cost has been estimated at £14 billion a month to run.

Following changes to the scheme at the end of May, the director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said that being asked to pay wages when businesses had not been trading was an added pressure, while the Federation of Small Businesses was surprised that the Chancellor was tapering the scheme when ending it. Northern Ireland's economy minister Diane Dodds said that changes to the scheme could be very difficult for some sectors uncertain about when they can reopen, particularly in the hospitality and retail sector, whilst finance minister Conor Murphy said that it was too early in the economic recovery. By 15 August 80,433 firms had returned £215,756,121 that had been claimed under the scheme. Other companies had claimed smaller amounts of grant cash on the next instalment to compensate for any overpayment. HM Revenue and Customs officials believed that £3.5 billion may have been paid out in error or to fraudsters.
Fraud against the schemes

In June 2020, David Clarke, chair of the Fraud Advisory Panel charity and a group of top white-collar crime experts wrote a letter to Sunak, the National Audit Office, and others, to alert them the risk of fraud against the government tax-payer backed stimulus schemes. They called for publication of the names of companies receiving Bounce Back Loans to enable data matching to prevent, deter and detect fraud. In September 2020, it emerged that Government Ministers were warned about the risk of fraud against the financial support schemes by Keith Morgan, CEO of the state-owned British Business Bank who had concerns about the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Future Fund. In December 2020, it was reported that banks and the National Crime Agency also had concerns about fraudulent abuse of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme. In January 2021, the NCA reported that three city workers who worked for the same London financial institution had been arrested as part of an investigation into fraudulent Bounce Back Loans totalling £6 million. The NCA said the men were suspected of using their "specialist knowledge" to carry out the fraud. This form of insider fraud was a risk highlighted in the letter sent to Sunak in June 2020.  A 2022 Freedom of Information request to the British Business Bank, the state-run body administering the bounce back loan scheme, found that almost one fifth, or 193,000 businesses had failed to meet their repayment terms as at 27 June 2022. The UK government estimated that £4.9 billion of bounce back loans may have been lost to fraud.
Future Fund

In July, he unveiled a plan for a further £30 billion of spending which included a stamp duty holiday, a cut to value-added tax (VAT) for the hospitality sector, a job retention bonus for employers and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, aimed at supporting and creating jobs in the hospitality industry. The government subsidised food and soft drinks at participating cafes, pubs and restaurants at 50%, up to £10 per person. The offer was available from 3 to 31 August on Monday to Wednesday each week. In total, the scheme subsidised £849 million in meals. Some consider the scheme to be a success in boosting the hospitality industry, however others disagree. In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study at the University of Warwick concluded that the scheme contributed to a rise in COVID-19 infections of between 8% and 17%.

Boris Johnson and Sunak at the former's birthday celebration on 19 June 2020; both men later received fixed penalty notices for attending the gathering

In November 2020, Sunak was reported by The Guardian to have not declared a significant amount of his wife and family's financial interests on the register of ministers' interests, including a combined £1.7 billion shareholding in the Indian company Infosys. Sunak is required under the ministerial code to declare interests that are "relevant" to his responsibilities and "which might be thought to give rise to a conflict" with his public duties. The independent adviser on ministers' interests investigated and concluded that Sunak had not broken any rules.
G7 tax reform

Sunak and US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen at the 2021 G7 finance ministers' meeting

Proposed green levy

As Chancellor, Sunak privately lobbied to impose a green levy, which would have led to higher petrol and diesel prices, to help pay for the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The proposed Fossil Fuels Emissions Trading Scheme, drawn up by the Treasury, sought to levy pollution from road transportation, as well as shipping, building heating and diesel trains, which together make up more than 40% of UK carbon emissions. The proposal was ultimately rejected by Boris Johnson, who instructed officials that he did not want to increase costs for consumers.

Sunak introducing the 2021 autumn budget

In October 2021, Sunak made his third budget statement. It included substantial spending promises to a large extent related to science and education.

Sunak made his spring statement on 23 March 2022. He said that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic had been disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He cut fuel duty, removed VAT on energy saving equipment (such as solar panels and insulation) and reduced national insurance payments for small businesses and, while continuing with a planned national insurance rise in April, he promised to align the primary threshold with the basic personal income allowance as of July. He also promised a reduction in income tax in 2024. The Office for Budget Responsibility said that the tax burden would reach its highest level since the 1940s. Sunak also provided some funding to help vulnerable people cope with the rising cost of living.

On 8 July 2022, Sunak stood in the Conservative party leadership election to replace Johnson. Sunak launched his campaign in a video posted to social media, writing that he would "restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country". He said his values were "patriotism, fairness, hard work". Sunak pledged to "crack down on gender neutral language".The domain readyforrishi.com was first registered with GoDaddy on 23 December 2021, while ready4rishi.com was registered on 6 July 2022, two days after Sunak resigned as chancellor. The former domain acts as a redirect to the latter. Conservative politicians who had supported Johnson criticised Sunak as "leading the charge in bringing down the prime minister" with key Johnson ally Jacob Rees-Mogg calling him a "high tax chancellor".

During the campaign, a clip from the 2001 BBC documentary Middle Classes: Their Rise and Sprawl, emerged in July 2022 in which he remarked, "I have friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper class, I have friends who are, you know, working class but... well not working class". Sunak commented on the clip that "We all say silly things when we are younger". A video of Sunak speaking to an audience in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, emerged in August 2022 in which he said he changed funding formulas which "shoved" money into "deprived urban areas", "to make sure that areas like this are getting the funding they deserve." Sunak responded that he wanted to "level up everywhere" and not just help "very large urban cities". Following Liz Truss's victory in the 2022 Conservative Party leadership election, Sunak returned to the backbenches.
October 2022

At the start of 2020, following his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sunak arrived in public discourse from relative obscurity. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was popular by the standards of British politics, described by one analyst as having "better ratings than any politician since the heydays of Tony Blair". Various polls showed Sunak remained overwhelmingly popular among Conservative supporters and many other Britons throughout 2020.

In an Ipsos MORI poll in September 2020, Sunak had the highest satisfaction score of any British Chancellor since Labour's Denis Healey in April 1978. He was widely seen as the favourite to become the next Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party. Sunak developed a cult media following, with jokes and gossip about his attractiveness widespread on social media and in magazines.

Public attitudes towards Sunak remained broadly positive in 2021, though his popularity declined steadily over time. By early 2022, with the cost of living becoming a growing focus of public concern, Sunak's response, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was perceived as inadequate and he received some of his lowest approval ratings. This fall continued as the Sunak family's financial affairs came under scrutiny.
Personal life

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