the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Henry Flaton '25
Photo by Lauren Hurley / No 10 Downing - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=124800316
Throughout 2022, the people of the United Kingdom have witnessed many historic events unfold across their nation. Perhaps one of the most momentous has been the appointment of British-Indian Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister, the third within thirteen weeks. On May 12, 1980, Sunak was born in Southampton, England to foreign Punjabi Indian parents. The future Prime Minister grew up in a dual-income household. His father was a general practitioner for the National Health Service of Britain, and his mother owned and operated a pharmacy. This financial stability enabled Sunak to attend schools such as Winchester College, Lincoln College, Oxford, and eventually Stanford University.
He studied economics, philosophy, and politics at Oxford, and earned a Master's in Business Administration at Stanford. During Sunak’s time at Stanford, he met his future wife, who would become a later topic of great controversy throughout his political career because of her extremely wealthy family; however, Sunak amassed a large net worth of his own from his corporate career, serving as a partner in various hedge funds.
Following his corporate career, Sunak dove into politics in 2010, working for the Conservative Party of Britain. Four years after entering British politics, Sunak came to lead the Black and Minority Ethnic Research Unit. On October 14th of the same year, Sunak was elected to Parliament, representing the town of Richmond as a member of the Conservative Party. Over the next six years, Sunak rose through the ranks of the UK government, eventually becoming the Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2020 following the resignation of his predecessor. As of October 25th, 2022, Sunak has accepted the equally new King Charles’ formal request to form a government in his name, entailing the role of British Prime Minister.
During his thus-far short political career, Sunak has backed several high-profile policies. Most notably, during former Prime Minister Theresa May's push for Britain’s exit from the European Union, Sunak was an avid supporter, voting three times in favor of the policy. As Prime Minister, he intends to shape the British relationship with the European Union to resemble that of the Swiss. Specifically, Sunak argues that this situation enables Britain to retain its current borders while allowing for trade to continue between the two entities. In addition, Sunak continues the United Kingdom’s contribution to Ukrainian war efforts, following the formal alliance between the two states. Under his leadership, Ukraine has received a further 50 million dollars of support. Lastly, Sunak faces a British economy believed to be teetering on the line of recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To combat this decline, Sunak has pledged to increase taxation and public spending while curtailing wasteful expenditures.
As Britain’s first Prime Minister of color, a practicing Hindu and Indian, Sunak has received a high amount of both positive and negative reception. In particular, several of his fellow Indians are appreciative of Britain’s political diversification. However, they still note that Sunak comes from an exceptionally privileged background and that the issue of discrimination still hangs over the country. All in all, while being a landmark moment in British history, only time will tell if Sunak can navigate and overcome the many crises the United Kingdom currently faces.