Rishi Sunak has won the race to become the next leader of the Conservative party and prime minister of the United Kingdom. He becomes the country's first ever prime minister of colour and is the first ever Hindu prime minister. These are both major landmarks in British political evolution and demonstrate that there is likely going to be an increase in equality and diversity in British culture and laws due to this. There has been an increase in the number of politicians of colour in the British political system but none that have ever had the top role of prime minister which is a major breakthrough and show that the level of acceptance in British society is increasing.
Mr Sunak became the leader of the Conservative party on a very auspicious day for Hindus all around the world as they celebrate Diwali. This is a festival of lights celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. It celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Mr Sunak is a practising Hindu and regularly takes part in cultural activities and ceremonies which help demonstrate his faith and mark different occasions.
Two years ago, when Sunak was chancellor, he lit candles to mark Diwali on the doorstep of No 11 Downing Street at a time when Covid restrictions remained in force.
“It was one of my proudest moments that I was able to do that on the steps of Downing Street. It was one of my proudest moments of the job that I had for the last two years,” he told the Times earlier this year.
His faith “gives me strength, it gives me purpose. It’s part of who I am,” he said.
He succeeds Liz Truss who becomes the shortest serving prime minister in history after only being in office for forty-five days where she presided over a disastrous mini budget which was created by Kwasi Kwarteng who was the Chancellor at the time. This spooked stock markets all round the world and sent them in to a downward spiral. She had to think fast of a way she could correct the problems that the budget had caused which lead her to replace Mr Kwarteng with former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as the new Chancellor.
Following his appointment, Mr Hunt created his own budget which reversed all the measures which were put in place by his predesessor. This gave markets around the world more confidence and they gradually began to return to a level which was more or less like normal.
Hunt, who has been on the backbenches since Boris Johnson became prime minister in 2019, is seen as coming from the more one-nation wing of the party. His appointment indicates Truss wants to broaden her support – and is likely to slow down her rush to introduce tax cuts.
Eventually Ms Truss was forced to visit King Charles III to submit her resignation. Mr Sunak could then move in to 10 Downing Street and make a speech of his own to accept the role of Prime Minister after visiting King Charles himself. The public are now waiting to see what the new Cabinet will look like and what politicians will have been moved to what positions.
Sunak’s parents are of Indian descent. His father, Yashvir, was born in Kenya and his mother, Usha, in Tanzania. They migrated to the UK in the 1960s.
The families of a clutch of other senior Conservative MPs, including Priti Patel, Braverman, Cleverly and Kwarteng, also emigrated to the UK from east and west Africa.
Sunak will also possibly be the UK’s first teetotal prime minister since David Lloyd George, with Coca-Cola his favoured tipple. There is no clear prohibition on alcohol in Hinduism, but many Hindus choose not to drink.