Rishi Sunak (born 12 May 1980) is a British Conservative politician, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Member of Parliament for Richmond (Yorkshire).note Sunak is the UK's first non-White, and first British Asian,note Prime Minister. He is also the first prime minister to be appointed by King Charles III.
Born in Southampton to parents of Indian descent who migrated to Britain from East Africa in the 1960s, Sunak was educated at the fee-paying private school Winchester College, before studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Lincoln College, Oxford, and later gaining an MBA from Stanford University in California as a Fulbright Scholar. While studying at Stanford, he met his wife Akshata Murty, the daughter of N. R. Narayana Murthy, the Indian billionaire businessman who founded multinational technology company Infosys. With a combined fortune of £730m ($827m), Sunak and Murty are the 222nd richest people in Britain, and Sunak is most likely the richest prime minister in history.
In the 2015 election, Sunak entered Parliament through the safe seat of Richmond, which has been consistently represented by Conservative Party MPs since 1910.note In the 2016 referendum on continued British membership of the European Union, Sunak supported the Leave campaign, in contrast to his immediate predecessor (who campaigned quite strongly for Remain but subsequently claimed to have become a "convert" to the Brexit cause). In 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed him to his first ministerial position, as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government.
In the 2019 Conservative leadership campaign occasioned by May's resignation, Sunak supported Boris Johnson. After Johnson won, he appointed Sunak to be Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Later, after Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid resigned as such in February 2020, Sunak was promoted to replace him. Between Sunak taking office and his first budget in March 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic had gotten into full swing, with Sunak's time as Chancellor being largely defined by two key initiatives intended to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. The first was the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, a furlough scheme intended to avoid mass redundancies and unemployment as a result of the pandemic's impact on business, which ran from March 2020 through to September 2021. The second was "Eat Out to Help Out", in which the UK Government subsidised food and non-alcoholic drinks at participating cafés, pubs, and restaurants at 50%, up to £10 per person (per order), throughout August 2020, in a drive intended to help the hospitality industry struggling under the weight of COVID-19 restrictions. While furlough was largely regarded positively, Eat Out to Help Out was more controversial, especially after researchers showed that the scheme had caused COVID-19 cases to rise.
On 5 July 2022, Sunak resigned as Chancellor, the second major government minister to resign that day following Javid, his predecessor as Chancellor, who was now Health Secretary, as a result of Boris Johnson's handling of the Chris Pincher scandal.note Javid and Sunak became the first of ultimately 62 Government ministers who resigned, forcing Johnson himself to resign on 7 July. Sunak appeared to be the early favourite to replace him in the subsequent leadership election, winning every preliminary ballot of Conservative MPs, but turned out to be widely disliked among the party members outside Parliament, who blamed him for instigating Johnson's fall. Thus, he lost to Liz Truss in the final ballot.
Sunak did not serve in Truss's cabinet, returning to the backbenches, only for Truss's ministry to implode completely within weeks over her disastrous economic policies, with her resigning after only 49 days on 20 October to become the shortest-serving prime minister in the history of the United Kingdom. In the ensuing leadership election, Sunak stood once again, and once more very quickly became the frontrunner, and this time neither of his closest rivals (Boris Johnson, attempting a very sudden political comeback, or the Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt) attracted enough support to match him, leaving him to become leader of the Conservative Party unopposed on 24 October 2022.note In addition to being the first non-White and first British Asian prime minister, he's also, at 42 years and 166 days upon taking office, the youngest prime minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812,note and, as a Hindu, the first practitioner of a religion other than Christianity to hold the office.note In a fitting coincidence, the day he became Conservative leader was also the first day of Diwali, one of the most important Hindu festivals.
- He is one of the recurring characters of the impression-based sketch show Dead Ringers.
- During his Chancellorship under Boris Johnson, he was a prominent puppet on the 2020 revival of Spitting Image, where he was portrayed as a wealthy and ambitious narcissist. One sketch showed Johnson's advisor Dominic Cummings attempting to read Sunak's mind via Psychic Powers, only to be faced with a vision of Sunak's disembodied heads chanting "Rishi, Rishi, Rishi".