Rishi Sunak becomes the UK’s youngest PM

Mr Sunak (42) is not just the youngest Prime Minister of Britain after he won the race to lead the Conservative Partybut is also the first leader of colour” and one of the wealthiest.


Born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton, Hampshire to Indian parents, Yashvir and Usha Sunak. His father was a general practitioner while his mother was a pharmacist who ran a local pharmacy. 


Mr Sunak’s grandparents were born in Punjab Province of India, and emigrated to the UK in the 1960s from East Africa. He is the eldest of three siblings. His brother Sanjay is a psychologist, and his sister Rakhi works as the Head of Humanitarian, Peacebuilding, at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. 


He was educated at the prestigious Winchester College, before attending Lincoln College, Oxford and Stanford University.


Although he undertook an internship at Conservative Central Office, which later became CCHQ, during his time at the university before going into business after graduating. From 2001 to 2004, he worked as an analyst at the global investment bank Goldman Sachs, but left the job to join The Children’s Investment Fund Management, becoming a partner in September 2006.


He joined the hedge fund Theleme Partners in 2009, the same year as his marriage to Akshata Murthy.


In 2013 he became the director of investment firm Catamaran Ventures, owned by his father-in-law and businessman N. R. Narayana Murthy, a job he held to his election as an MP.


It was during his time at Catamaran Ventures that he was chosen as the Perspective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) by the Conservative Party for the ultra-safe-seat of Richmond in Yorkshire (2014). The seat became vacant after a former leader of the Conservative Party, William Hague, announced he was stepping down.


That same year he headed up the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit of Policy Exchange and co-wrote a report on BME communities in the United Kingdom. 


In the 2015 General Election, he was elected as an MP and served for two years on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee. 


He supported the EU referendum in 2016. He also wrote a report for the Centre for Policy Studies supporting the establishment of free ports after Brexit, and the following year wrote a report advocating for the creation of a retail bond market for SMEs.


He was re-elected as MP from the same seat in the 2017 General Election and was appointed the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for local government from January 2018 to July 2019.


He shrewdly supported PM Boris Johnson in the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election, following the resignation of Theresa May and even co-wrote an article in the Times, along with his close political friends Robert Jenrick and Oliver Dowden extolling the benefits of a Johnson premiership.


His support of Boris Johnson was rewarded after the 2019 General Election, with a stint Chief Secretary to the Treasury under Chancellor Sajid Javid and then in February 2020, he was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer.


He was tasked to deliver many of Boris Johnson’s key policies, including finding money for the PM’s levelling-up agenda, but was almost immediately blown off course by the COVID-19 pandemic.


In his 11th March 2020 budget, he opened up the taps on public spending announcing an extra £30 billion of which £12 billion was allocated for mitigation of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


With the level of support being seen as completely inadequate, on 17th March, he was back in Parliamentannouncing a staggering £330 billion in emergency support for businesses and a salary subsidy scheme for all employees, known as the furlough scheme.


The job the job retention scheme would run until 30 September 2021.


In a push to boost the hospitality industry in the wake of the pandemic, he unveiled a £30 billion Eat Out to Help Out Scheme, which subsidized food and soft drinks at participating cafes, pubs and restaurants at 50 per cent, up to £10 per person. The offer was available from 3 to 31 August 2020 from Monday to Wednesday. While winning plaudits from some quarters, a subsequent study by the University of Warwick revealed that the scheme contributed to a rise in COVID-19 infections. 


By March 2021, Mr Sunak revealed that the UK’s deficit had risen to £355 billion for the year 2020-2021, the highest in peacetime. Faced with having to repay this eyewatering amount, he announced an increase in corporation tax from 19 to 25 per cent in 2023, a five-year freeze in the tax-free personal allowance and the higher rate income tax threshold.


He was seen as a key driver of a deal to establish a global minimum tax on multinationals and online technology companies at the G7 Summit in June 2021, which was joined by all member of the OECD later in the same year.


His final budget in October 2021 unveiled additional spendingfor health research and innovation (£5bn) and for skills education (£3bn)


It was around this time that news reports revealed that MrSunak’s wife Akshata Murthy has non-domiciled status, which means that she is not required to pay tax on the income that she earned abroad while living in the United Kingdom. Murthy pays around 30,000 pounds to secure the particular status, which further allows her to avoid paying an estimated 20 million pounds in UK taxes. 


In the face of this backlash, she announced that she will pay UK taxes on her global income. She further added that she does not want it to be an issue to be a distraction from her husband’s plans. 


And in a further blow to Mr Sunak newspaper report revealed that he continued to hold the U.S. Permanent Resident Card he had acquired in the 2000s until 2021, including for 18 months after he was Chancellor, which required filling the U.S. Tax returns. 


Mr Sunak’s spring statement on 2022, cut fuel duty and removed VAT on energy saving equipment in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but to the consternation of a number of his colleagues, he announced that he would press ahead with the national insurance and corporation tax increases.


On the 5th July he resigned as chancellor moments afteranother one of his long time allies, Sajid Javid, the then health secretary resigned amid a controversy surrounding the sexual harassment allegations against the Tory MP Chris Pincher and ongoing Partygate controversy.


His former friend and boss, Boris Johnson resigned as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, two days later.


Despite, being widely seen as the front runner to replace Boris Johnson he lost out to Liz Truss in the final run off of the two candidates put to Conservative Party members.


In what was widely seen at the time as a fit of pique, he refused to serve in the Liz Truss Government, a decision that some have argued helped him in this race and gives him “distance” from the chaos of the Liz Truss premiership.


Alistair Thompson

Alistair Thompson is the Director of Team Britannia PR and a journalist.