The Conservative MPs in the UK Parliament on Monday chose popular British born MP Rishi Sunak as leader of their party and the next Prime Minister. He will be sworn in on Tuesday and asked by the King to form a government. This development dominated social media and world news.
Sunak, 42, is Britain’s first nonwhite prime minister. He is of Indian descent. Both of his parents were born in East Africa. They were unwelcomed in Africa and migrated to Britain. Sunak did extremely well in school attending the most prestigious public school and universities in UK. He also obtained a MBA in the USA.
Sunak served as Johnson’s ex-chancellor of the Exchequer, or treasury chief.
His victory as leader of the Conservative Party has made news in India and the diaspora. It is much talked about. Indians everywhere in the diaspora, expressed pride.
His victory comes on Diwali Day, an auspicious day and the largest festival for Hindus globally. Sunak and his family are practicing Hindus.
Sunak was the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet, before he resigned igniting a wave of cabinet resignations that toppled Johnson. Sunak entered into a race for the leadership of the Conservatives after Johnson resigned but he lost to Liz Truss.
He has won the leadership race to replace Truss who resigned last week as PM and head of the Conservative Party. Truss defeated Sunak for the leadership of the Conservative Party in a membership vote in September. Truss resigned from the job after party members rebelled against her leadership, triggering a vote among Conservative MPs to choose the next PM. She has not been an effective PM.
Sunak declared his candidacy for the job on Sunday, stating that he wanted to fix the economy. By Monday morning, he had gained the support of 194 Conservatives, leaving the others short of crossing the minimum threshold to have a chance of victory. He needed the support and signature of only 100 MPs to have his candidacy go forward. No other candidate could muster 100 votes.
Initially, two other MPs declared their candidacy for leadership – but neither one could muster the 100 votes. Boris Johnson, who had resigned in June, cut short his vacation in the Dominican Republic and flew to London and declared his candidacy to return as PM. But he could only muster support from 58 MPs and withdrew from the race. Sunak will now be invited by the King (Charles III) to form a new government on Tuesday.
Sunak had resigned from Johnson’s cabinet over morality and ethical issues, triggering the collapse of the government. Johnson announced he would never forgive Sunak, saying he would support anyone but Sunak as his successor. Months earlier, he favored Sunak as his successor.
Sunak was very popular among Conservative MPs, winning support from a majority of them as opposed to Liz Truss who trailed Sunak among MPs. But Sunak trailed Truss among Conservative members who choose the party leader. She narrowly defeated him. Sunak warned that Truss would not be able to address economic problems facing the country. He turned out to be right.