These are eventful times for British politics. This year saw the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history. Her successor, Charles III set another record: at 73, he was the oldest Briton to become king. A couple of days before this happened, Liz Truss became prime minister, but just 50 days later she had to resign because of a government crisis, making her the shortest-serving prime minister in UK history – yet another record!
On 25 October, Rishi Sunak took Liz Truss’ place, setting new records and new firsts. At 42, he is the youngest PM in over two hundred years. He is the first Briton of Indian descent as well as the first Hindu to hold that position. More generally, he is the first prime minister of immigrant origins.
Mr Sunak’s grandfathers were born in India, and later moved to East Africa. His parents were born there and in the 1960s moved to the UK. In England, his father worked as a general practitioner, and his mother as a pharmacist. Much of what they earned they spent on their children’s education.
Mr Sunak speaks highly of the opportunities the UK has given to his parents and to himself. He attended expensive private schools. He then became rich working as a banker. He also married an extremely wealthy Indian woman. The couple has a net worth of more than £700 million. This makes him the richest-ever British prime minister (another record!), richer than the King himself.
Although many people see his appointment as prime minister as a positive sign of multiculturalism, many say that his wealth keeps him out of touch with the needs of ordinary people. The UK is going through rough economic times, and millions of people are struggling to make ends meet. Recently Mr Sunak said that he wants “everyone in this country [the UK] to have the same opportunities” that his family had. Time will tell if he can deliver on this important promise.
1) According to a recent poll, 62% of Britons believe that very wealth politicians “cannot identify with the experiences of ordinary Britons.” Do you agree or disagree?
2) Rishi Sunak has been described in this article with reference to his age, his family background, his ethnicity and his wealth. Most would agree that these are significant aspects of his identity that define who he is. Now think about yourself. What defines you? What do you consider your most important characteristics? Give a brief but informative description of yourself.
(Image: United Kingdom Open Government Licence v3; Wikimedia Commons)