This article is reproduced from The Citizen (India).
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 (The Citizen-Weekly Echo) – Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of Britain. A first by any standards, as the Conservative Party of the UK, from the right to the far right of politics, brought in a migrant member to head the party and the country.
As Sunak and his millionaire wife Akshata Murthy and their two children prepare to move into 10 Downing Street many questions and issues rear their head – the least at this stage being his skin colour as clearly the Tories have temporarily transgressed that.
Having had to for sheer fear of an early election that could, and probably would, go the Labour way. Sunak was kept out of the white PM seat by his party that voted in Truss. This despite his rather impressive rankings in polls, and a more polished campaign than rival Truss. She was ousted after her economic charter that even the Tories were astounded by, and although a strong loyal lobby campaigned for Johnson he could not make it.
As his re-election would perhaps be too much for the Conservatives to explain to the people, as after all they will have to contest a real election in a couple of years. So despite not wanting to, the Tories brought in Sunak, as their most impressive candidate in the fray. That says little by the way given his rivals since he threw his hat into the PM ring.
He has now overcome two major hurdles that had come his way in the first instance. One, that he held a US green card till a few months after he became Chancellor in 2021. And his rich wife with a stake in her father Narayana Murthy’s capital remained a non-domiciled UK resident. Only so she could get away with paying just £30000 a year instead of the £20 million she would be liable for on her overseas earnings.
The British newspapers have responded to Sunak’s ‘election’ with both support, criticism and wit. Headlines ‘Who Voted For You’ to ‘The Force is With You’ greeted Sunak after the announcement was made.
As he himself spoke to his party members on an ‘Unite or Die’ theme. This has sparked speculation that he will be accommodating supporters of Boris Johnson who despite the hurried plane ride back from holiday could not make it, and Liz Truss as key members in his cabinet. The door to prove himself has been kept open, with the first test being his new cabinet, and the second his announcements of policy. Here of course, economic policy will remain the key. More so as per his own economic beliefs and that of his party Sunak will have his task cut out for him — to tax the citizens as a Prime Minister wealthier than the King!
Sunak was born in Southampton in 1980 and has lived and worked in the UK since. He has had a pretty rapid rise in politics, triggering off the dissent against Johnson. Now of course that he is at the helm he has given a long speech on the need for unity within the party, but whether that will happen remains to be seen. As there are many influential members within who have not accepted him for reasons that lie in the ideology of the party he is loyal to. The colour of his skin, although not important insofar as this election is concerned now, will remain a factor in a different way.
He will have to surpass the criticism within, by being as some have commented, more loyal than the king. Hence the economic and migration policies that the Conservatives are wedded to will invite a sledge hammer approach that Sunak has given sufficient indication of during his campaign recently. He is gutsy of course. And highly ambitious. As while aware that his every move will be watched and discussed by all he is willing, indeed eager, to bite this tough bullet that will open or close the doors for the Tory party in the general elections. He is in position because of the desperation of the party to avoid the elections as pointed out above because Labour is looming larger than it is in real terms today.
He has an opportunity given to him not by the nation but by his party. This means that he has to implement the party’s agenda to the letter and get the Tories in shape to face the electorate. A very tall order in the current circumstances.
–The Citizen-Weekly Echo