UK Inflation Accelerates To 41-Year Peak

File photo of Britain’s newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gestures as he delivers a speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London, on October 25, 2022. – Rishi Sunak was Tuesday appointed as Britain’s third prime minister this year, after outgoing leader Liz Truss submitted her resignation to King Charles III. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

 

British inflation has jumped to a 41-year high on soaring energy and food bills in a worsening cost-of-living crisis, data showed Wednesday on the eve of a key budget.

The Consumer Prices Index hit 11.1 percent in October, reaching the highest level since 1981, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

That compared with 10.1 percent in September, which matched the level in July and had already been the highest in 40 years.

Domestic fuel bills rocketed again despite the UK government’s energy price freeze as the market faced more fallout from key producer Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The October figure beat market expectations of 10.7 percent and was higher than the Bank of England’s forecast peak.

“Rising gas and electricity prices drove headline inflation to its highest level for over 40 years, despite the Energy Price Guarantee,” said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

Over the last year, gas prices have leapt by 130 percent and electricity prices by 66 percent, according to the ONS.

Runaway inflation comes despite state energy support, which sought to limit annual energy bills at an average of £2,500 per year.

READ ALSO: Trump Declares 2024 Presidential Bid, Says Biden Won’t Get Second Term

Finance minister Jeremy Hunt blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine for spiking prices, as well as the easing of pandemic curbs.

– ‘Tough’ decisions –

Hunt is expected Thursday to hike taxes and slash spending, despite the cost-of-living squeeze, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attempts to fix economic chaos wrought by predecessor Liz Truss.

“The aftershock of Covid and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is driving up inflation in the UK and around the world,” Hunt said Wednesday.

“This… is eating into pay cheques, household budgets and savings, while thwarting any chance of long-term economic growth.”

The Ukraine conflict has also sent inflation soaring to the highest level in decades worldwide, sparking economic turmoil.

That has forced major central banks to raise interest rates, risking the prospect of recession as higher borrowing costs hurt businesses and consumers.

The Bank of England this month sprang its biggest rate hike since 1989 to combat sky-high inflation — and warned the UK economy may experience a record-long recession until mid-2024.

The BoE lifted borrowing costs by 0.75 percentage points to 3.0 percent — the highest since the 2008 global financial crisis — to cool UK inflation that it saw peaking at almost 11 percent.

Hunt added that “tough” decisions would be needed in Thursday’s budget to help the BoE meet its 2.0-percent inflation target.

“We cannot have long-term, sustainable growth with high inflation,” he said.

The UK has meanwhile been blighted by strikes this year, as workers protest over wages that have failed to keep pace with surging inflation.

The retail prices index — an inflation measure which includes mortgage interest payments and is used by trade unions and employers when negotiating wage increases — rocketed to 14.2 percent in October from 12.6 percent in September, data showed Wednesday.

AFP

UK PM In Fresh Controversy Over Cabinet Picks

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on October 26, 2022, for the House of Commons to take part in his first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). – Rishi Sunak will today face off against opposition lawmakers for the first time as British prime minister, in a likely raucous parliamentary session following weeks of political turmoil. (Photo by Niklas HALLE’N / AFP)

 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced new questions Saturday over his choice of senior officials after his number two was accused of behaving aggressively towards staff.

The controversy over Dominic Raab, who is deputy prime minister and justice secretary, came after fellow Sunak ally Gavin Williamson was forced out of the new government because of alleged bullying.

Raab, Sunak’s most vocal supporter in the summer Conservative leadership race against Liz Truss, was brought back into the cabinet when Truss was forced out as prime minister after just six weeks.

Sunak restored him to his previous role of justice secretary, where he had presided over a “culture of fear”, according to the Guardian newspaper.

Some 15 senior civil servants at the ministry were offered a “route out” to different government jobs if they felt unable to serve under Raab because of his past behaviour, it said.

The Sun newspaper meanwhile reported that Raab had once hurled tomatoes from a salad across a room in a fit of anger during a meeting — which a spokesman for the minister said was “nonsense”.

More generally, the spokesman said: “Dominic has high standards, works hard, and expects a lot from his team as well as himself.

“He has worked well with officials to drive the government’s agenda across Whitehall in multiple government departments and always acts with the utmost professionalism.”

Sunak was already under fire for reappointing Williamson to a ministerial role despite being told he was under investigation for allegedly bullying another senior Conservative.

The prime minister also faced criticism for reinstating Suella Braverman as interior minister just six days after she was forced to quit the Truss cabinet over a security breach.

The opposition Labour party pointed to those controversies as it termed the latest accusations “deeply troubling”, demanding Sunak launch an inquiry.

“With each new scandal and grubby deal, it becomes more obvious that he is a weak leader who puts party management before the national interest,” Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said.

There was no immediate comment from Sunak, who is preparing next week to unveil an emergency economic package after a tax-slashing budget by Truss sparked a financial crisis.

AFP

Sunak, Macron Agree Greater Cooperation On Channel Migrants

New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak waves as he leaves from Conservative Party Headquarters in central London having been announced as the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest, on October 24, 2022. – Britain’s next prime minister, former finance chief Rishi Sunak, inherits a UK economy that was headed for recession even before the recent turmoil triggered by Liz Truss. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron Friday in their first call since Sunak took office agreed on greater cooperation to prevent migrant Channel crossings, Downing Street said.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the leaders “committed to deepening our partnership to deter deadly journeys across the Channel that benefit organised criminals”.

Britain’s New PM Eyes Delay To Crunch Budget Plan

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (6th L) poses for a photograph alongside members of his new cabinet at his first cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street in central London on October 26, 2022. – Sunak’s largely same-look cabinet holds an inaugural meeting today before he heads to the House of Commons for his first weekly “Prime Minister’s Questions”, when he will battle Labour leader Keir Starmer and other opposition lawmakers. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau / POOL / AFP)

 

 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could postpone an eagerly-awaited budget plan due next week, a senior minister said Wednesday, as the youthful new leader gets down to business after weeks of political turmoil.

Following a meeting of his new-look cabinet, Sunak was set to engage in his first parliamentary joust against opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is demanding a snap general election.

“The Tories have crashed the economy, with low wages, high prices and a cost-of-living crisis,” Starmer said, in a taste of the attack to come. “The public needs a fresh start and a say on Britain’s future.”

But Sunak, 42, ruled out an early election as he vowed stability and fiscal rectitude following his appointment by King Charles III on Tuesday.

After appointing the cabinet team, Sunak phoned the presidents of Ukraine and the United States to vow continuity on UK foreign policy, including resisting Russia’s invasion of its neighbour with cash and military aid.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly — one of several ministers retained by Sunak from the old cabinet of Liz Truss — said however that Monday’s “medium-term fiscal statement” was no longer so pressing.

The statement was forced on Truss after she caused financial markets to implode with an ill-conceived plan for tax cuts financed by extra borrowing.

She ditched her finance minister and turned to a new one in Jeremy Hunt to steady the ship, but her own premiership was mortally wounded.

Sunak also retained Hunt in his cabinet, and vowed to restore “trust” and “integrity” in government after Truss’s financial carnage and the many controversies that brought down Boris Johnson before her.

But for critics, the new leader undermined his own pledges by also re-appointing the hardline right-winger Suella Braverman as interior minister, days after she was forced to resign for a security breach.

Cleverly said Braverman had shown contrition for her “mistake” in emailing sensitive government documents outside her department.

 

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on October 26, 2022, for the House of Commons to take part in his first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). – Rishi Sunak will today face off against opposition lawmakers for the first time as British prime minister, in a likely raucous parliamentary session following weeks of political turmoil. (Photo by Niklas HALLE’N / AFP)

 

– ‘Livid’ –
On the fiscal statement, the foreign minister told BBC television that “a short delay, in order to make sure that we get this right, I think that is not necessarily a bad thing at all”.

“He will want some time with his chancellor (Hunt) to make sure that the fiscal statement matches his priorities,” Cleverly added, warning that further cuts to foreign aid might be necessary.

As well as mending Britain’s wounded finances, Sunak is also pledging to reunite the Conservatives after another bruising leadership contest, mere weeks after Johnson was forced out.

The right-leaning Times daily welcomed a “generally broad and capable set of cabinet appointments”, although the left-wing Guardian expressed scepticism.

“Sooner or later, he will face the parliamentary disunity that his election sought to banish,” it said in an editorial.

Sunak, finance minister under Johnson, also kept Truss’s defence, trade and culture ministers among others, as well as re-hiring some older faces from the Johnson cabinet.

The line-up “reflects a unified party and a cabinet with significant experience, ensuring that at this uncertain time there is continuity at the heart of government”, a Downing Street source said.

But Braverman’s return raised eyebrows across the political spectrum, with Labour demanding answers to the implications for national security.

Cabinet secretary Simon Case, the UK’s most senior civil servant, is “livid” over her swift return, a source told The Times.

Truss left office as the UK’s shortest-serving premier in history, replaced by its youngest since 1812 and first Hindu leader.

Sunak triumphed in a 96-hour Tory leadership contest after rival contender Penny Mordaunt failed to secure enough nominations from Tory lawmakers and Johnson dramatically aborted an audacious comeback bid.

President Buhari’s Full Statement On The Incoming Prime Minister Of UK, Rishi Sunak

 

STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI ON THE INCOMING PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE RISHI SUNAK MP

“On behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the largest of 21 countries of Africa that are members of the Commonwealth, I welcome incoming British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to office.

“As the first Prime Minister of British-Asian descent and the youngest in about 200 years, these milestones will be especially inspiring for young people across our 2.4 billion-population, 56-nation Commonwealth.

“On this important day, we should also remember the enduring partnership and unbreakable friendship between our countries, United Kingdom and Nigeria.

“We stand together in this troubled world against terrorism. We are determined to address the world food crisis that is driving up the cost of living for people and families across the globe. We are steadfast in our commitment to make our countries and our allies more energy secure.

“We are pledged to address climate change that forces millions to leave their homes through desertification and attempt to cross the seas into Europe. And we seek to increase trade and investment within and between Commonwealth countries to boost the health and wealth of all our peoples.

“We seek to deepen our partnership with Britain to achieve these objectives, and more. The government and people of Nigeria look forward to working with Prime Minister Sunak and the leaders of other Commonwealth nations to deliver them.”

UK’s New PM Sunak Vows To Fix Truss ‘Mistakes’

Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss walks away from the podium after delivering her final speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London, before heading to Buckingham Palace to give her resignation, on October 25, 2022. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

New British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday vowed to fix the errors made by his predecessor Liz Truss while warning of “difficult” decisions ahead.

Speaking on the steps of Downing Street after being appointed premier by King Charles III, Sunak spoke of Truss’s “noble” aims but said some “mistakes” had been made.

“Right now our country is facing a profound economic crisis, the aftermath of Covid still lingers, Putin’s war in Ukraine has destabilised energy markets and supply chains the world over,” he said.

 

Britain’s newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waves as he poses outside to door to 10 Downing Street in central London, on October 25, 2022, after delivering his first speech as prime minister. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

 

He said however he wanted to “pay tribute” to Truss whose tenure as leader lasted just seven weeks.

Her tax-slashing budget sparked economic and political turmoil.

“She was not wrong to want to improve growth in this country. It is a noble aim and I admired her restlessness to create change but some mistakes were made, not born of ill will or bad intentions, but mistakes nonetheless,” he said.

“And I have been elected as leader of my party — your prime minister — in part to fix them, and that work begins immediately,” he added.

UK’s New PM Rishi Sunak Warns Of ‘Difficult Decisions’ Ahead

Britain’s newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gestures as he delivers a speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London, on October 25, 2022. – Rishi Sunak was Tuesday appointed as Britain’s third prime minister this year, after outgoing leader Liz Truss submitted her resignation to King Charles III. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

 

 

 

Rishi Sunak on Tuesday became Britain’s third prime minister this year and the first person of colour to lead the former imperial power, vowing to mend its stricken finances after Liz Truss lasted just 49 days.

Sunak was set to speak outside 10 Downing Street after his appointment by King Charles III, capping the latest extraordinary twist in UK politics following Boris Johnson’s demise in July.

Departing Downing Street a little before, Truss wished Sunak “every success” and said she remained “more convinced than ever” that Britain needed to be “bold” in confronting the challenges it faced.

Sunak became the ruling Conservatives’ new leader on Monday after triumphing over rival contender Penny Mordaunt, who failed to secure enough nominations from Tory MPs.

It had become a two-way fight after Johnson dramatically aborted a comeback attempt late Sunday, having failed to persuade Sunak to share power. He has maintained a deafening silence since.

Sunak, a Hindu, is the first British-Indian prime minister and, at 42, the youngest leader in more than two centuries.

US President Joe Biden called the choice “groundbreaking”, and vowed to reach out to Sunak shortly.

Sunak took power in a morning audience with Charles — who anointed his first prime minister since ascending the throne following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

 

Britain’s King Charles III greets newly appointed Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak during an audience at Buckingham Palace in London on October 25, 2022, where Sunak was invited to form a government. – Britain’s King Charles III on Tuesday appointed new Conservative leader Rishi Sunak as the second prime minister of his reign, shortly after accepting the resignation of Liz Truss. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP)

 

– ‘Unite or die’ –
Britain’s Conservative-supporting media hailed Sunak’s appointment.

“The force is with you, Rishi,” ran The Sun’s headline, in a reference to Sunak’s love of “Star Wars” films. The Daily Mail called it “a new dawn for Britain”.

But the left-leaning Guardian highlighted Sunak’s warning to Conservative MPs that the party must “unite or die”.

Truss left office as the shortest-serving premier in history, after a calamitous tax-slashing budget sparked economic and political turmoil.

The 47-year-old announced her resignation last Thursday, admitting she could not deliver her mandate from Conservative members — who had chosen her over Sunak in the summer to replace Johnson.

Sunak has now staged a stunning turnaround in political fortunes, and vowed to do the same for Britain as it confronts decades-high inflation, surging borrowing costs and imminent recession.

He also faces the uphill task of uniting a party riven with divisions and infighting.

Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader, said MPs now understood the “existential threat” facing the Tories, and that they needed to unite or accept being “out of power for a long time”.

 

Britain’s outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss walks away from the podium after delivering her final speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London, before heading to Buckingham Palace to give her resignation, on October 25, 2022. – Rishi Sunak will on Tuesday be appointed Britain’s third prime minister this year, after outgoing leader Liz Truss submits her resignation to King Charles III, Downing Street said. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

– ‘Difficult decisions’ –
After delivering the now all-too-familiar new leader’s speech, Sunak started appointing his top team before facing his first session of “Prime Minister’s Questions” in parliament on Wednesday.

Finance minister Jeremy Hunt — appointed by Truss just 11 days ago in a bid to salvage her premiership — could remain in the role after stabilising the markets.

He endorsed Sunak on Sunday, writing in the Telegraph that he was a leader “willing to make the choices necessary for our long-term prosperity”.

After reversing almost all of Truss’s various tax cuts, Hunt has warned “difficult decisions” loom over public spending.

Whoever heads the Treasury is set to unveil the government’s much-anticipated fiscal plans on October 31.

Sunak must also decide whether to appoint to his cabinet senior MPs who did not support him, such as Mordaunt, in a bid to unify his fractured party.

One unlikely to get a seat around the table is former boss Johnson, who was driven out in July partly thanks to Sunak’s resignation.

On Sunday he announced he would not go forward with his audacious leadership bid.

 

Britain’s newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waves as he poses outside the door to 10 Downing Street in central London, on October 25, 2022, after delivering his first speech as prime minister. – Rishi Sunak was on Tuesday appointed as Britain’s third prime minister this year, after outgoing leader Liz Truss submitted her resignation to King Charles III. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

 

– ‘No mandate’ –
Sunak, a wealthy descendant of immigrants from India and East Africa, is also facing calls for a general election after becoming the latest leader who lacks a direct mandate from the electorate.

Pollster Ipsos said Monday that 62 percent of voters want a vote by the end of the year.

“He has no mandate, no answers and no ideas,” Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted.

Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said young people would be “inspired” by the appointment of the first British-Asian leader — but also insisted it was time for a general election.

“Given the Conservatives have trashed the economy… I guess one’s not surprised that they’re scared of the British public,” he told Times Radio.

The next election is not due until January 2025 at the latest and opposition parties have no way to force one, unless dozens of Conservative MPs acquiesce.

That appears unlikely as a flurry of polls show Labour with its largest lead in decades.

Sunak To Be Appointed UK’s Third PM This Year

New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak (centre R) is greeted by colleagues as he arrives at Conservative Party Headquarters in central London, after having been announced as the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest, on October 24, 2022. – Britain’s next prime minister, former finance chief Rishi Sunak, inherits a UK economy that was headed for recession even before the recent turmoil triggered by Liz Truss. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

 

 

Rishi Sunak will on Tuesday be installed as Britain’s third prime minister this year, replacing the humiliated Liz Truss after just seven weeks and inheriting a daunting array of problems.

Sunak became the ruling Conservatives’ new leader on Monday after rival contender Penny Mordaunt failed to secure enough nominations from Tory MPs, and ex-premier Boris Johnson dramatically aborted a comeback bid.

The 42-year-old Hindu will be Britain’s first prime minister of colour and the youngest in more than two centuries.

President Joe Biden called the choice of Sunak as Britain’s first non-white prime minister “groundbreaking”.

Sunak will take power in a morning audience with King Charles III — who is anointing his first prime minister since ascending the throne following the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II.

Truss will hold a final cabinet meeting before making a departing statement in Downing Street at around 10:15 am (0915 GMT).

Sunak is expected to speak just over an hour later.

– ‘Unite or die’ –
Britain’s Conservative-supporting media hailed Sunak’s appointment.

“The force is with you, Rishi,” ran The Sun’s headline, as the Daily Mail called it “a new dawn for Britain”.

But the left-leaning Guardian highlighted Sunak’s warning to MPs that the party must “unite or die”.

Truss leaves office as the shortest-serving premier in history, after a calamitous tax-slashing budget sparked economic and political turmoil.

The 47-year-old announced her resignation last Thursday, admitting she could not deliver her “mandate” from Conservative members — who had chosen her over Sunak in the summer.

He has now staged a stunning turnaround in political fortunes, and vowed to do the same for Britain as it confronts decades-high inflation, surging borrowing costs and imminent recession.

But he also faces the uphill task of uniting a party riven with divisions and infighting.

Gavin Williamson, who served as a minister in the governments of both Theresa May and Boris Johnson, said the party was in the “last chance saloon” on unity.

“If it can’t unite behind this government you’re going to have an early general election,” he told BBC radio.

MPs would have to get behind the prime minister and “deliver the stable competent government that… the country needs at this moment of crisis”, he said.

– ‘Choices’ –
After delivering the now all-too-familiar new leader’s speech, Sunak will start appointing his top team before facing his first session of “Prime Minister’s Questions” in parliament on Wednesday.

Finance minister Jeremy Hunt — appointed by Truss just 11 days ago in a bid to salvage her premiership — could remain in the role after stabilising the markets.

He endorsed Sunak on Sunday, writing in the Telegraph that he was a leader “willing to make the choices necessary for our long-term prosperity”.

After reversing almost all of Truss’s various tax cuts, Hunt has warned “difficult decisions” loom over public spending.

Whoever heads the Treasury is set to unveil the government’s much-anticipated fiscal plans on October 31.

Sunak must also decide whether to appoint to his cabinet senior MPs who did not support him, such as Mordaunt, in a bid to unify his fractured party.

One unlikely to get a seat around the table is his former boss Johnson, who was driven out in July partly thanks to Sunak’s resignation.

Johnson on Sunday announced he would not move forward with his audacious comeback bid.

– ‘No mandate’ –
Sunak, a wealthy descendant of immigrants from India and East Africa, is also facing calls for a general election after becoming the latest leader who lacks a direct mandate from the electorate.

Pollster Ipsos said Monday that 62 percent of voters want a vote by the end of the year.

“He has no mandate, no answers and no ideas,” Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted.

The next election is not due until January 2025 at the latest and opposition parties have no way to force one, unless dozens of Conservative MPs acquiesce.

That appears unlikely as a flurry of polls show Labour with its largest lead in decades.

Rishi Sunak, Set To Be The UK’s First Hindu PM

New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak waves as he arrives at Conservative Party Headquarters in central London having been announced as the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest, on October 24, 2022. AFP

 

 

Rishi Sunak, the Conservatives’ new leader, has capped a stunning political comeback that marks a dramatic rise to power for the son of immigrants from Britain’s old empire.

Liz Truss’s political implosion after just 44 days in office allowed the former finance minister to become the first prime minister of colour.

“Indian son rises over the empire,” read a headline on the Indian news channel NDTV, adding: “History comes full circle in Britain.”

At 42, Sunak will also become the youngest prime minister of modern times once he is confirmed in office by King Charles III.

The former hedge fund investor, an observant Hindu, failed in the summer to persuade the Tory grassroots that he was a better option than Truss.

But having correctly predicted her economic agenda would spark turmoil, he was able to throw his hat into the ring for a second time.

After securing the public support of more than half of Conservative MPs, his only remaining challenger Penny Mordaunt was forced to withdraw — following the failure of former leader Boris Johnson’s own bid.

Fabulously rich from his previous career in finance, Sunak faces daunting challenges in power, from an economic crisis to uniting his fractious party.

Some within it remain highly critical of Sunak, viewing him as disloyal for triggering the downfall of Johnson in July.

He has also been mocked as out of touch with Britons struggling with decades-high inflation — perhaps best symbolised by wearing expensive Prada loafers to a construction site visit on the summer campaign trail.

Video footage also emerged of a 21-year-old Sunak — educated at Winchester College, an exclusive private school, and the University of Oxford — talking about his friends.

“I have friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper-class, I have friends who are, you know, working-class,” he says, before adding: “Well, not working-class.”

‘Dishy Rishi’

Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former chancellor of the exchequer and candidate to become the next prime minister, delivers a speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on July 12, 2022. Conservative party said, with 11 hopefuls currently vying for the job. (Photo by Niklas HALLE’N / AFP)

A details-oriented policy wonk with a background in economics, Sunak has sought to present himself as a stable choice at a time of crisis.

An early backer of Brexit, he took over as chancellor of the exchequer in February 2020 — a baptism of fire for the Tory rising star as the Covid pandemic erupted.

He was forced to craft an enormous economic support package at breakneck speed, which he now insists must be paid off with sound fiscal plans.

In India, Sunak is better known through his wife, Akshata Murty. She is the daughter of Indian tycoon Narayana Murthy, the billionaire co-founder of information technology group Infosys.

The Sunaks met while studying in California and they have two young daughters, along with a photogenic dog.

The ex-minister’s Instagram-friendly profile earned him the media nickname of “Dishy Rishi”.

Until last year, he held a US Green Card — which critics said suggested a lack of long-term loyalty to Britain.

And he has been dogged by difficult questions over Murty’s failure until recently to pay UK taxes on her Infosys returns, which opinion polls suggest was viewed with deep disfavour by voters.

Sunak has also been damaged by the scandals of Johnson’s tumultuous premiership.

He ended up with a police fine for breaching Covid rules after joining a birthday gathering for the then-prime minister at Downing Street.

Johnson was also fined following an investigation into the “Partygate” affair.

Along with the controversy over his family fortune, the scandal sullied the reputation of the teetotal Sunak, who admits only to a fondness for Coca-Cola and sugary confectioneries.

Waiter to wealth

Britain’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative MP, Rishi Sunak leaves from an office in central London on October 23, 2022. British Conservative Rishi Sunak on Sunday announced he is standing to be prime minister, just weeks after failing in a first attempt and setting up a potentially bruising battle with his former boss Boris Johnson. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

Sunak represents the constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire, northern England — a safe and overwhelmingly white Conservative seat he took over in 2015 from former party leader and foreign secretary William Hague, who described him as “exceptional”.

Theresa May gave Sunak his first job in government in January 2018, making him a junior minister for local government, parks and troubled families.

Sunak’s grandparents were from Punjab in northern India and emigrated to Britain from eastern Africa in the 1960s.

They arrived with “very little”, Sunak told MPs in his maiden speech.

His father was a family doctor in Southampton on England’s south coast, and his mother ran a local pharmacy.

Sunak waited tables in a local Indian restaurant, before progressing to Oxford and then Stanford University in California.

He swears his oath of allegiance as an MP on the Hindu Bhagavad Gita.

He insists his own family’s experience, and that of his mega-rich wife’s, are a “very Conservative” story of hard work and aspiration.

Rishi Sunak Set To Become UK’s New Prime Minister

Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former chancellor of the exchequer and candidate to become the next prime minister, delivers a speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on July 12, 2022.  AFP

 

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak on Monday won the battle for leadership of Britain’s Conservative party and will become the country’s first prime minister of colour.

Penny Mordaunt, the last rival left after Boris Johnson dramatically pulled out, failed to secure the necessary 100 nominations from her fellow MPs.

“Rishi Sunak is therefore elected as leader of the Conservative party,” senior backbencher Graham Brady said, as Mordaunt pledged her “full support” for Sunak.

Triumph for 42-year-old Sunak came after Johnson’s decision late Sunday to abandon his political comeback bid.

Just weeks after he lost out to Liz Truss to lead the ruling Tories, Sunak, therefore, pulled off a stunning reversal in fortunes.

Britain’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Conservative MP, Rishi Sunak leaves from an office in central London on October 23, 2022. AFP

 

 

Addressing members of his party behind closed doors after the announcement, Sunak reportedly received a rapturous reception.

Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, whose nationalist government in Edinburgh wants to hold an independence referendum next year, was among the first to congratulate Sunak.

“I wish him well… notwithstanding our political differences,” she said.

“That he becomes the first British Asian — indeed the first from any minority ethnic background — to become PM is a genuinely significant moment,” she said.

 Abrupt end to the contest

The contest, triggered by outgoing leader Truss’s resignation on Thursday, had required candidates to secure the support of at least 100 Conservative MPs by 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Monday.

Only Sunak made the threshold, Brady announced.

Sunak, a wealthy Hindu descendant of immigrants from India and East Africa, had crossed that threshold by Friday night and amassed nearly 200 public nominations — more than half the parliamentary Tory party.

Johnson’s withdrawal from the race — before he had even formally announced his candidacy — left cabinet member Mordaunt the only other declared contender.

However she failed to garner the necessary support, putting an abrupt end to the contest.

‘First British Asian PM’

Sunak’s victory came on the day Hindus worldwide mark the start of the five-day festival of Diwali — a celebration of the victory of good over evil.

When he was chancellor of the exchequer, in November 2020, Sunak marked the occasion by lighting oil lamps on the front step of the chancellor’s official residence at 11 Downing Street.

The Tories were forced into their second leadership contest since the summer due to Truss’s resignation after only 44 days following a disastrous market response to her tax-slashing mini-budget.

Truss — who pledged Sunak her “full support” — had replaced Johnson in early September following a government revolt led by Sunak over a slew of scandals, most notably the “Partygate” controversy involving Covid lockdown-breaching parties.

Johnson’s attempt to make an immediate return to Downing Street had raised the prospect of months of disarray and disunity within the ruling Conservatives.

Critical backbench Tory MPs warned there could have been a wave of resignations under Johnson’s renewed leadership, which might have led to the general election demanded by opposition parties. One is not due for at least two years.

Johnson had cut short a Caribbean holiday to return to Britain on Saturday.

But in a sign of his diminished political standing, Johnson swiftly conceded late Sunday, admitting “you can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament”.

“I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time,” he said, while insisting he had secured the 100 nominations needed to progress.

Sunak was quick to pay tribute to Johnson, tweeting: “I truly hope he continues to contribute to public life at home and abroad.”

‘Profound crisis’

Mordaunt had insisted she was best placed to take the fight to the opposition Labour party, which is soaring in the polls amid a cost of living crisis.

In an article in the right-wing Daily Telegraph, she also stressed her commitment to a “lower-tax, high productivity economy”.

Sunak kept a lower profile during the contest, writing simply on his Twitter account that the country faced a “profound economic crisis”.

“I want to fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country,” he said.

Labour is demanding a general election now.

“The Tories have crowned Rishi Sunak without him saying a word about what he would do as PM. He has no mandate, no answers and no ideas,” tweeted Angela Rayner, deputy Labour leader.

Anand Menon, politics professor at King’s College London, said Sunak becoming prime minister was a landmark.

“To have, if we do, a prime minister of Indian origin is a really, really big deal,” he told BBC television shortly before the result was confirmed.

He added that he was reassured by how little comment there had been about it.

“In a sense… we seem to have normalised this,” he said.

AFP

 

 

 

 

Sunak Makes Second Bid To Become UK’s First Hindu PM

Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former chancellor of the exchequer and candidate to become the next prime minister, delivers a speech at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on July 12, 2022.  AFP

 

Rishi Sunak looked set for at least several years in the political wilderness after helping topple ex-prime minister Boris Johnson but then losing to Liz Truss in the summer’s Conservative leadership contest.

But her dramatic political implosion after just 44 days in office has provided an almost immediate opportunity for the Tory MP to make a renewed bid to become Britain’s first prime minister of colour.

It would be a historic landmark if the Hindu descendant of immigrants from Britain’s old empire in India and East Africa were to take command of the world’s fifth-largest economy — albeit one gripped by severe crisis.

 

But after securing the support of more than 100 Conservative MPs and then formally declaring his candidacy on Sunday, that reality came a step closer.

Standing in his way: former boss-turned-political foe Johnson — who he spectacularly fell out with this year — and fellow Conservative contender Penny Mordaunt, as well as another potential vote of party members.

Sunak failed in the summer leadership contest to convince the grassroots he was a better option than Truss. But having correctly predicted her economic agenda would spark economic turmoil, he may hope for more success the second time around.

However, Johnson remains a favourite of the party faithful and some members see his former finance minister as a back-stabber, making any such ballot highly fraught for Sunak.

Fabulously rich from his pre-politics career in finance, he has been mocked as out of touch with Britons struggling with decades-high inflation.

On the summer campaign trail, he wore expensive Prada loafers on a visit to a building site and faced accusations of “mansplaining” to Truss.

Video footage also emerged of a 21-year-old Sunak describing his mix of friends following his education at Winchester College, one of Britain’s most exclusive private schools, and the University of Oxford.

“I have friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper class, I have friends who are, you know, working class,” he said, before adding: “Well, not working class.”

 Dishy Rishi 

A details-oriented policy wonk with a background in economics, Sunak, 42, is set to market himself as a stable choice at a time of crisis.

An early backer of Brexit, he took over as chancellor of the exchequer in February 2020 — a baptism of fire for the Tory rising star as the Covid pandemic erupted.

He was forced to craft an enormous economic support package at breakneck speed, which he now insists must be paid off with sound fiscal plans.

In India, Sunak has been better known through his wife, Akshata Murty. She is the daughter of Indian tycoon Narayana Murthy, the billionaire co-founder of the information technology group Infosys.

The Sunaks met while studying in California and they have two young daughters, along with a photogenic dog.

The ex-minister’s Instagram-friendly profile earned him the media nickname of “Dishy Rishi”.

Until last year, he held a US Green Card — which critics said suggested a lack of long-term loyalty to Britain.

And he has been dogged by difficult questions over Murty’s failure until recently to pay UK taxes on her Infosys returns, which opinion polls suggest was viewed with deep disfavour by voters.

Sunak has also been damaged by the scandals of Johnson’s tumultuous premiership.

He ended up with a police fine for breaching Covid rules, after joining a birthday gathering for the then-prime minister when he arrived early for a Downing Street meeting.

Johnson was also fined following an investigation into the “Partygate” affair.

Along with the controversy over his family fortune, the scandal sullied the reputation of the teetotal Sunak, who admits only to a fondness for Coca-Cola and sugary confectioneries.

– Waiter to wealth –
Sunak represents the constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire, northern England — a safe Conservative seat he took over in 2015 from former party leader and foreign secretary William Hague, who described him as “exceptional”.

Sunak swears his oath of allegiance as an MP on the Bhagavad Gita. Theresa May gave him his first job in government in January 2018, making him a junior minister for local government, parks and troubled families.

Sunak’s grandparents were from Punjab in northern India and emigrated to Britain from eastern Africa in the 1960s.

They arrived with “very little”, Sunak told MPs in his maiden speech in 2015.

His father was a family doctor in Southampton on the southern English coast, and his mother ran a local pharmacy — a back story he never tired of telling on the leadership campaign trail.

Sunak waited tables in a local Indian restaurant, before progressing to Oxford and then Stanford University in California.

He insists that both his own family’s experience, and that of his mega-rich wife’s, are a “very Conservative” story of hard work and aspiration.

He will soon learn if the party members can be won over the second time asking.

AFP

Johnson Returns To UK As Sunak Qualifies For PM Race

(COMBO) In this combination of file pictures created in London on October 21, 2022, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R), listens to a question from the media as he attends a press conference at Downing Street in London on March 7, 2022, and Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (L) speaking at the annual Conservative Party Conference being held at the Manchester Central convention centre on October 4, 2021. – Former Conservative leader Boris Johnson and his former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak are neck and neck in the betting as the main candidates explore their options with a week to go in the Conservative leadership election. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali and Ben STANSALL / various sources / AFP)

 

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday returned to Britain from a holiday to launch an audacious political comeback, as Conservative leadership rival Rishi Sunak reached the minimum threshold to contest the UK’s top job.

Johnson cut short a Caribbean trip to join the race to replace outgoing leader Liz Truss, with allies telling British media he was “up for it”.

The divisive 58-year-old Brexit architect only handed over power in early September, two months after announcing his resignation following a Tory revolt over a slew of scandals.

His apparent bid to return to office just weeks later has already been decried by opposition politicians, and even some in his own fractured ruling party who argue that both it and the country need stability and unity.

“We’ve got to go forward, not go back,” Dominic Raab — Johnson’s deputy prime minister — told Sky News, adding an imminent parliamentary inquiry into the “Partygate” scandal that dogged his former boss could prove too distracting.

Raab said former finance minister Sunak’s economic experience meant he was the “standout candidate”.

The Tories were forced into a second, this time expedited, leadership contest since the summer after Truss dramatically announced Thursday she would stand down — just 44 tempestuous days into her tenure.

It followed a disastrous tax-slashing mini-budget that sparked economic and political turmoil which had been predicted by Sunak.

– ‘Fresh start’ –

Late Friday, Sunak’s allies in parliament said he had garnered the nominations of 100 Conservative MPs, the threshold set by the party to stand.

However, both Sunak and Johnson are yet to announce they are running, leaving it to allies to signal their intent.

Cabinet member Penny Mordaunt, who just missed out on making the final runoff after Johnson quit, became the first to formally declare her candidacy again Friday.

The 49-year-old said she was running for “a fresh start, a united party and leadership in the national interest”. But she is already trailing her rivals by dozens of nominations.

The accelerated contest will see the Conservatives’ 357 MPs hold a vote Monday on any candidates with the 100 nominations, before a possible online ballot of party members later in the week if two remain.

The Sunak and Johnson camps are reportedly seeking talks to see if there is scope for a unity deal — although there is plenty of bad blood since the former prime minister’s defenestration.

READ ALSO: Biden Vows Close Cooperation With UK After Truss Quits

Sunak’s July resignation as chancellor of the exchequer helped trigger the government mutiny that ultimately led to Johnson’s ousting.

James Duddridge, one of Johnson’s closest allies in parliament, said late Friday he had been in contact with his old boss via WhatsApp.

“He said… ‘We are going to do this. I’m up for it’,” the MP told Sky News, as the broadcaster published a photograph apparently showing Johnson on a flight home from the Dominican Republic.

– ‘Wielded the knife’ –
The ever-ebullient former leader has won the backing of several cabinet heavyweights, including Defence Secretary Ben Wallace — a favourite of the Tory grassroots — who is “leaning towards” supporting Johnson.

But Wallace noted that he still had “some questions to answer” over the myriad controversies that engulfed his government, which resulted in the yet-to-launch investigation in the House of Commons.

If found guilty of lying to the Commons over “Partygate” — lockdown-breaching revels held in Downing Street — Johnson could be suspended or even expelled from parliament.

As a result of such controversies, Johnson left Number 10 with dismal poll ratings, and other Tories appear aghast at the prospect of his return.

Veteran backbencher Roger Gale warned that Johnson could face a wave of resignations from MPs refusing to serve under him as leader.

Although he remains popular with members who could decide the contest, polling shows he remains broadly disliked by the electorate, with a YouGov survey finding 52 percent of voters opposed his comeback.

Another poll also found that three in five voters now want an early general election, in line with demands from opposition parties, as Britons struggle with a worsening cost-of-living crisis.

In Sunak’s constituency in Yorkshire, northern England, 58-year-old farmer Elaine Stones said the party had made a mistake in electing Truss instead of him last month.

“He’s honest, reliable and he should have been voted in last time,” she told AFP.

But in a sign of party-wide divisions, retiree Maureen Ward called him a “backstabber” who helped to topple Johnson.

“He wielded the knife and once you do that, you can’t be trusted,” she said.

AFP