What will happen when the United Kingdom elects its next Prime Minister? A lot of feelings and scenarios might come to mind, but let’s find out together in this article!
Rishi Sunak is now almost certain to be the next prime minister of Britain. This is because both of his main competitors in the race to replace Liz Truss dropped out before a single vote was cast by Conservative party members.
He is known as a moderate and practical politician. In the most recent leadership race, he was seen as a safe choice to lead the U.K. after Liz Truss’ plans to cut taxes and increase spending shook the government’s credibility and scared the markets.
Sunak’s rise in British politics could be called “meteoric.” After a long career in banking, he was elected to Parliament in 2015. Just five years later, Boris Johnson made him finance minister, which is also called chancellor of the Exchequer, which is the U.K.’s Treasury.
Sunak will be the first British Asian and the first person of color to be prime minister. He will also be the youngest prime minister in more than 200 years. He will be 42 years old.
But the fact that such a high-ranking British politician comes from a nonwhite family—both of his parents are of Indian descent—has only become common in the last few years.
“That is a very, very new thing,” says Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, a think tank that studies immigration, integration, race, and identity.
He says that since David Cameron became prime minister, the Conservative Party has put a lot of effort into getting more people from ethnic minorities into top government jobs.
“Ethnic diversity at the top of British politics has become the new norm,” Katwala says. “In the last five years, we’ve seen a lot of people from minority groups become chancellors, home secretaries, and foreign secretaries. Everyone is used to that, and most people don’t think you should worry too much about it.”
It’s only been seven weeks since Sunak lost the top job to Liz Truss in the first Tory leadership race of the year, which was held after Boris Johnson quit in July amid a scandal.
But since the Truss government fell apart because it tried to implement unfunded tax and spending plans that didn’t work, Sunak and the whole U.K. face huge economic problems.
Supporters say that men like Sunak will be looked up to by South Asians in the U.K., especially those who want to get into politics.
But Sunak is also likely to get a lot of attention because he comes from a very privileged background and his wife, an IT heiress from India, didn’t pay the top rate of British tax as a fully domiciled U.K. resident until recently.
The head of the London-based thinks tank Chatham House, Bronwen Maddox, says that one good thing about the chaos of the past few weeks is that it “has forced someone with economic competence to the top of the Conservative field, and it has also forced Labour, the main opposition party, to put together a platform based on a claim to financial coherence and competence, things that Labor hasn’t always been associated with in the past.”
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