British public opinion is divided on the new Prime Minister
Will the new UK Prime Minister be able to stop the downward economic spiral of his nation? Will he be able to overcome the British society's and Conservatives' differences? Will the youthful and aspirational politician be able to offer direction to a kingdom that is falling apart and look for its position in the twenty-first century?
These pressing inquiries are being furiously sought after by Britain, which in recent weeks has lost a queen, gained a king, and "tested" three Prime Ministers. The new prime minister of the nation assumes office while his nation faces unheard-of difficulties. While Scotland discusses the idea of independence, the country is plagued by inflation and serious economic troubles. Political volatility is still simmering in Northern Ireland.
On Rishi Sunak's new job, analysts seem at odds. Sunak needs more time to show his abilities and leadership, according to conservative experts and politicians. Analysts who believe that the Conservatives are tipping the UK over the edge do not hold this opinion. From their perspective, Britain shouldn't have high expectations for Sunak and shouldn't harbor any delusions about how severe the problems actually are.
A privileged boy of an immigrant family
The 57th prime minister of the UK is 42 years old, younger than all of his predecessors except William Pitt the Younger, and wealthier than the King. Rishi Sunak will serve as both the first Hindu prime minister and the first person of color to lead the UK.
The parents of Rishi Sunak were East African-born Indian immigrants to the UK. His mother owned a pharmacy, while his father practiced general practice. First to arrive in the country, Sunak's grandmother Sraksha Berry took a room rental in Leicester and started working as a bookkeeper. She sent for her husband Raghubir, their three kids, including Sunak's mother Usha, a year later. In England, Sunak's parents were introduced and wed. Usha was a pharmacist who had stores around Hampshire before opening Sunak Pharmacy, and his father, Yashvir, became a general practitioner.
Rishi was born in Southampton, in 1980. The oldest of three children, Rishi, received his education at Winchester College, a private boarding school that costs £43,335 a year to attend. As a teenager, Rishi delivered prescriptions from his mother's pharmacy during the New Labor and Cool Britannia eras of the 1990s. He was working on the books by the time he started studying for his economics A-level. Later, in order to win over the party faithful, Sunak hasn't been afraid to draw attention to his ambitious origins and its allusion to Margaret Thatcher's grocery store in Grantham. In an interview with The Times, he stated, "I was raised in a home with kitchen-table conservative principles, my mom operated a modest business, and Margaret Thatcher talked about family budgets.
The Oxford University years and the marriage with the billionaire's girl
Sunak attended the University of Oxford to study politics, philosophy, and economics. At Stanford University, he later earned a master's degree in business administration (MBA). After his studies, Rishi immediately joined Goldman Sachs in 2001. With help from his parents, the man who claims to have had a poor upbringing quickly purchased his first apartment in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for $210,000. After working in finance for over three years, he took some time off to complete an MBA at Stanford while being awarded a Fulbright scholarship. Akshata Murty, a student and the daughter of Indian billionaire NR Narayana Murthy, was there when he first met her. They got married after four years. In 2009, the pair wed in a two-day ceremony in Bengaluru, her hometown. The couple has two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka.
Murty is the daughter of NR Narayana Murthy, an Indian millionaire who established the software giant Infosys and is frequently referred to as the Bill Gates of India. His daughter reportedly owns a 0.91% share in the business, which is worth roughly £700 million. In April, it was discovered that Murty was a non-domiciled UK resident, which allowed her to avoid paying UK taxes. It was estimated that she may have been responsible for paying more than £20 million in UK taxes. Following a backlash from the public, her spokeswoman declared she will begin paying the UK. The estimated combined wealth of Sunak and Murty today is £730 million, double that of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, who are thought to be worth between £300 and £350 million. They have four homes worth more than £15 million that are spread out around the globe.
Climbing the ladder of the British politics
Sunak became prime minister seven years after his entrance into British politics, which is quicker than any previous PM in the contemporary era. After gaining the Yorkshire seat of Richmond from William Hague in 2015, Sunak entered the Commons and was immediately recognized as a rising star.
When he supported a "Leave" vote in the 2016 referendum, David Cameron and George Osborne were alarmed because they saw it as a sign that aspirational young MPs were turning against them. Following the referendum result, he supported Michael Gove in the 2016 leadership election. Theresa May appointed him to his first ministerial position as a parliamentary undersecretary at the Ministry of Housing in January 2018, and he served in that capacity for the rest of May's premiership. Sunak backed Boris Johnson's bid to lead the Conservative Party after May's resignation. Sunak was named Chief Secretary to the Treasury by Johnson after he was elected and given the position of Prime Minister.
Sunak's climb in the British political scene wasn't without its bumps. He was expected to leave politics after losing to Liz Truss in a ballot of Tory members on September 5. But Sunak was prepared with the backing of the followers he had gained over the course of the summer campaign when Truss was brought down in flames by her disastrous and unfunded tax cuts.
"Sunak's government must show what reasonable leadership is"
The British public opinion seems to be more divided than ever, Sunak assumes control of Britain's premiership. While a sizable section of the British people favors bold, alternative ideas and solutions to address pressing issues, the Conservatives continue to adhere to tried neoliberal formulas, both worldwide and in Britain. Local communities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are openly at odds with London on several topics at the same time. The First Minister of Scotland maintains that a fresh vote on Scottish independence is a one-way-road for Scotland. Supporters of "United Ireland" in Northern Ireland "see" the realization of their political agenda in ten years.
"The next two years look like being the most difficult and dangerous the world has seen in decades. Hardship for tens of millions is coming globally. Most governments that face elections will not survive them. This is going to be rough. The hope starts with the prospect of Britain having as prime minister an outstanding individual who will create a strong team of ministers around him. I know Rishi Sunak well, and he represents my former constituency of Richmond, Yorkshire," stated William Hague, analyzing Sunak's challenges in the new period.
In his opinion, Sunak's government must show what effective, reasonable leadership can look like, even though they begin with a significant disadvantage for their party in the polls and offer a viable political alternative. By being honest with the nation about the decisions that must be made, fair in requesting sacrifices, and competent in carrying them out, the government will gain new respect and offer the nation a choice. The Labor Party, which is vehemently challenging power, might be held accountable by the reorganized Conservatives at the same time.
"His way of life is in total contrast to the millions of people who cannot pay their rent"
According to most recent analyses in Britain, Sunak is a polarizing personality within his own party, which may make securing enough support to rule difficult. Opposition parties and the public are clamoring for a new general election because of internal conflicts within the Conservative Party over choosing a new leader. This is exemplified by Johnson's potential comeback, the Tories' astounding poll unpopularity and the possibility of installing a third prime minister without holding fresh elections. With the generalization of the economic crisis, the clamor for early elections is growing louder while class strife in British society is deepening.
"Yes, Rishi Sunak is Britain’s first Asian prime minister. But this is not a progressive victory," stresses Hashi Mohamed, who expresses pessimism about Britain's sociopolitical future. He continues: "Whether or not you share Sunak's political views, his climb is unquestionably a remarkable accomplishment. Sunak has defied the odds as an Asian man to reach the top position in the country even though he cannot claim any kind of humble beginning as an immigrant. For those like us, Sunak's rise is tainted with resentment because many of his harsh ideas don't exactly reflect the first British leader with immigrant parents we had in mind."
"Can we truly consider Sunak's appointment to be good for social mobility when he makes his first steps inside Downing Street?", asks Mohamed and adds: "Sunak is a fervent fan of Priti Patel's Rwanda policies, which are likely to have prevented his parents from ever immigrating to Britain. Sunak appears to suffer from the syndrome of feeling the need to prove that they love Britain more than the rest of us, like so many other rising stars in the Conservative party. Sunak, a multimillionaire, feels the need to downplay his blatantly fortunate upbringing at the same time. His life is completely at odds with the millions of people who cannot pay their rent, bills, or other expenses," concludes Mohammed.
*Dr Nikolaos Stelgias was born in Istanbul. He is an independent researcher, writer, historian and journalist. His doctorate is in the field of the modern Turkish political system (Panteion University, 2011). His latest book “The Ailing Turkish Democracy” was published by the Cambridge Scholars Publication in 2020. Dr. Stelgias was a correspondent of the newspaper "Kathimerini (Cyprus edition)" for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community from 2009 to 2021. Currently, Dr. Stelgias works at the Cyprus News Agency. Dr. Stelgias publishes in Turkish news articles and analyses on Cyprus and Greece.