LONDON – With Rishi Sunak taking charge as Britain’s first non-white, non-Christian Prime Minister, Indian-origin Labour MPs and organisations are “seriously questioning” the former chancellor’s mandate to govern.
After an audience with King Charles III on Tuesday, the 42-year-old investment banker-turned-politician formally took charge as the PM with issues like inflation, energy crisis and economic slowdown staring right at the UK’s face.
“I strongly disagree with Rishi Sunak’s politics and seriously question his mandate, as he does not have one. However, it’s important to recognise the significance of Britain’s first Prime Minister of Indian/East African heritage,” British Sikh MP Preet Kaur Gill tweeted.
“Rishi Sunak,has said very little on what he would do as PM. The public deserve a say on Britain’s future that’s why we need a general election,” Gill, the MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, added.
In his first address to the nation via a televised statement in front of 10 Downing Street, Sunak pledged: “I will unite our country not with words, but with action.”
“I have been elected as leader of my party and your Prime Minister in part to fix them.” He added: “This will mean difficult decisions to come,” Sunak said, delivering one of the longest first speeches — for five minutes and 56 seconds — by a new prime minister.
“Rishi Sunak and his wife sit on a fortune of 730,000,000 pounds. That’s around twice the estimated wealth of King Charles III. Remember this whenever he talks about making ‘tough decisions’ that working class people will pay for,” said Nadia Whittome, the Indian-origin MP for Nottingham East.
Sunak’s first task as a PM would be to tame an economic crisis that has left the country’s finances in a precarious situation with millions struggling to pay their food and energy bills.
As he tries to bring inflation and government debt under control, Sunak will also have to oversee tax hikes and public spending cuts.
Apart from putting the UK economy in the right shape, Sunak will also have to unite his Conservative party that has descended into acrimony with its poll ratings taking a setback.
“I fully appreciate how hard things are… And I understand, too, that I have work to do to restore trust after all that has happened. All I can say is that I am not daunted,” Sunak said outside the 10 Downing Street residence.
Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty’s combined fortune is estimated to be 730 million pounds, double the estimated 300 million-350 million pounds wealth of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort.
They own four properties spread across the world and valued at more than 15 million pounds, The Guardian reported.
“…this change in PM cannot excuse or undo the Conservative-led horror of the last years. As with the majority of this country, we believe that electing Keir Starmer is the only way to reduce our mortgages, restore our public services and reverse international fragmentation,” the Labour Convention of Indian Organisation, which represents the diverse British Indian community within Labour, said.
Sunak is the youngest Prime Minister of Britain in 200 years. He has risen to this position after only seven years in politics. He was previously an investment banker and hedge fund manager.
He is of Indian origin by virtue of his grandparents hailing from pre-partition India, though his parents were brought up in East Africa. He himself was born in Southampton. -IANS