Richer than Carlos III: Rishi Sunak the New British PM Who Remembers the Colonial Past

Rishi Sunak, the possible new prime minister of the United Kingdom, is the first racialized British head of government in history, which brings diversity to the politics of the island

Rishi Sunak

Photo: Flickr-HM Treasury

LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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Leer en español: Más rico que Carlos III: Rishi Sunak el nuevo PM británico que recuerda el pasado colonial

The British Conservative Party has already chosen Liz Truss's replacement as the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This is Rishi Sunak, a politician and businessman of Indian descent, who shows a new face of the European power. A couple of months ago, he himself was the trigger for Boris Johnson's downfall. When his finance minister, Sunak himself, decided to jump ship because of his boss's scandals. He then lost the competition to his party colleague Liz Truss, and today he is the new prime minister who breaks the mold.

He is not only the first racialized (non-white) head of the British Government in the history of the country. Furthermore, he is also the youngest in 200 years. Likewise, he is one of the richest men in the country and the first to be crowned by King Carlos III. He will be the third prime minister in 2022 due to the British economic crisis and internal instability within the Conservative party.

He was born 42 years ago in Southampton and is the eldest of three children. His parents were of Indian descent, but born in East Africa, at a time when the British Empire ruled both territories as colonies. His father is originally from what is now Kenya and his mother from Tanzania. It also has Pakistani roots and is the spitting image of the new United Kingdom, a country enriched by its former colonies and with a significant Indian and Pakistani population.

The arrival of Sunak is the living example of the colonial past of the British Empire that today lives a racial and cultural diversity within its borders. Not for nothing, the Indian community within the United Kingdom represents 2.3% of the British population, approximately 1.4 million people. This group includes people of Indian descent and migrants. But Sunak is also a reflection of an African diaspora. Although he identifies himself as of Indian descent, both of his parents were born and raised in East Africa, the children of Indians (and Pakistanis) who migrated within the borders of the British Empire to work. Later, that family arrived in the “metropolis” and today they represent one of the most relevant and influential ethnic groups in the country.

In addition to his political facet, Sunak is a successful businessman. He is co-founder of an investment fund that works with companies from Silicon Valley in the United States to Bangalore in India. He has based his political life on supporting microentrepreneurs and entrepreneurs. Likewise, he is from the most conservative wing of the “Tories” and a defender of Brexit from the beginning.

Ethnic Minority, but Within the Richest 1%

Although Sunak is considered by many to be a living representation of the racialized community within the United Kingdom, many voices within the Labor Party and left-wing movements see him as an evolution of the British elites. Rishi Sunak is not only part of an ethnic minority, but also a privileged minority: the billionaires.

But his wealth was not only amassed by him, but also by the family of his wife Akshata Murty (who he met at Stanford University in the United States). Akshata is the daughter of Nawayana Murth, one of the founders of the IT giant Infosys. The marriage is one of the richest in the entire United Kingdom.

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Precisely, he is the British politician with the most money. His net worth is estimated at £730 million. His wealth is superior to that of King Carlos III and his wife Camila. Critical voices assure that he lives in privilege and does not know the difficult times that the majority of English people are going through, living one of the worst times of the modern economy with global inflation that is frightening.

For example, the British newspaper The Guardian explains that within one of their properties, they have a wet room that costs more than 400,000 pounds and that only for heating for the 12 x 4 meter pool, they must pay 14,000 pounds, 6 times what a British family pays for energy.

Murty, Sunak's wife, agreed that she did not file taxes on her company's foreign earnings. Later, she announced that she will begin to pay them so as not to affect her husband's political life. However, several opposition voices have asked them to declare if they have evaded taxes by using tax havens.

A More Diverse British Policy

Although Rishi Sunak is the first PM of immigrant descent to come to power, he is not the first to rise to prominence in British politics. As difficult as it has been for racialized communities to reach strata of British power, there are some cases that show that British politics of the future is less white and more diverse. A clear case is that of Sadiq Khan, the mayor of the City of London since 2016.

Khan is also the son of Asian immigrants, more precisely Pakistanis. Politically, he is diametrically opposed to Sunak, since Khan is a key player in the Labor Party, the main opposition movement to the Conservative Party.

Many have even called for Khan to be the leader of the Labor Party in future elections. However, the mayor today only contemplates managing the most important city in the country and has not contemplated launching himself into national politics, where the Labor Party sees a possible majority and formation of a government far away.

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