During an early career in banking that was prosperous, Rishi Sunak was elected as a Conservative MP from Richmond in 2015. Only five years after being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, he won plaudits for developing a sizable bailout package to aid struggling individuals and businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak. Sunak was unsuccessful in his first attempt to win the Conservative Party leadership, but when Liz Truss abruptly left her position in October 2022, he was elected as the country’s first prime minister of color.
How Old Is Rishi Sunak?
Rishi Sunak was born on May 12, 1980, in Southampton, England.
Parents and Nationality
Before relocating to England in the 1960s, Sunak’s parents were born to Indian-origin households in East Africa. His mother Usha ran a pharmacy, and his father Yashvir worked as a general practitioner for the National Health Service.
Early Years and Education
Sunak, the oldest of three children, began playing cricket at a young age and discovered early on that he had a knack for business by working at the family pharmacy.
Sunak helped out by working as a waiter during breaks while Yashvir and Usha accepted the financial burden of sending their son to the famous boarding school even though an anticipated scholarship to Winchester College never materialized. He later became the first Indian-American “head boy” of Winchester and edited the school newspaper, The Wykehamist.
Sunak next enrolled in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program at Lincoln College at the University of Oxford. Prior to receiving a first-class degree in 2001, he did not play a significant role in the school’s political circles and instead rose to the position of president of the Oxford University Investment Society.
Afterwards, Sunak pursued his MBA in 2006 while enrolled at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Management on a Fulbright scholarship.
Sunak started off as a junior analyst at Goldman Sachs’ London office, where he specialized in US companies in the media and transportation industries. He returned to England after his stint at Stanford to join the thriving hedge fund sector as a partner at The Children’s Investment Fund (TCI).
Sunak was relocated back to California in 2010 as a result of TCI’s division to work for a former employer at the hedge fund Thélème Partners. From 2013 to 2015, he took over as director of his father-in-investment law’s company, Catamaran Ventures.
Before his start in politics, Sunak also served as a board member for a Boys & Girls Club in California, a governor of the East London Science School and as director of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit of the right-center think tank Policy Exchange.
Member of Parliament
In 2015, Sunak began his political career by running against longtime Conservative MP William Hague in the Richmond, North Yorkshire, district. Though there were doubts about how he would perform in the rural, predominately white area, the newcomer won over the locals and received more than 50% of the vote.
The Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy hired Sunak as a parliamentary private secretary in June 2017, and in January of the following year, he was appointed under secretary of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government. Sunak’s quick rise was fueled by his sharp intellect and polished demeanor. The rookie MP gained notoriety along the road by rejecting Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to declare his support for Brexit.
Sunak received the position of chief secretary to the Treasury in July 2019 as compensation for supporting former foreign secretary Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign. Sunak even filled in for Prime Minister Johnson during general election debates later that year.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Sunak became the second-youngest chancellor of the Exchequer ever in February 2020, barely seven months after joining the Treasury.
Sunak was initially entrusted with completing the budget’s short deadline, but he soon shifted his attention to urgent steps to support the British economy in the midst of Covid-19’s swift spread. On March 17, he announced a £350 billion corporate rescue plan. Shortly after, he promised to support both furloughed employees and the self-employed.
The chancellor’s popularity increased with his display of strong leadership and readiness to defy his Conservative views to continue providing financial support to struggling individuals and businesses, while other measures, like his “eat out to help out” scheme, had no effect.
Sunak managed the G7 Conference in June 2021 and oversaw the western countries’ decision to enact a historic global corporation tax in addition to his management of the pandemic. He announced the following spring that he had requested the Treasury to create a non-fungible token, indicating his commitment to support the developing cryptocurrency sector (NFT).
Although he endured public embarrassment for breaking lockdown rules, Sunak leveraged the resentment over Johnson’s scandal-plagued premiership to resign as chancellor on July 5, 2022, setting off a wave of government departures that forced the prime minister to step down two days later.
Sunak, one of the 11 contenders who announced their intentions to succeed Johnson, criticized the “fairy tale” tax reduction put out by his rivals. Sunak was initially seen as the front-runner for the party leadership when Conservative MPs narrowed the field to two, but Liz Truss, the current foreign secretary, finally won the vote, and on September 6, 2022, she was elected prime minister of the United Kingdom.
Truss’ premiership, however, crumbled under the financial chaos brought on by her proposal to cut taxes and freeze home energy costs. On October 20, 2022, Truss declared that her historically brief term as prime minister will come to an end when the majority of her economic initiatives were rejected in the face of rising inflation.
Sunak became the only candidate to receive the necessary backing of 100 fellow MPs, enabling him to take office as the first U.K. prime minister of color on October 24, 2022.
“When the opportunity to serve comes along, you cannot question the moment, only your willingness,” he declared in his acceptance speech. “So, I stand here before you ready to lead our country into the future, to put your needs above politics, to reach out and build a government that represents the very best traditions of my party. Together, we can achieve incredible things.”
Wife and Family
While attending Stanford, Sunak met Akshata Murty, an entrepreneur and the daughter of N. R. Narayana Murthy, who founded Infosys. The couple had daughters Krishna and Anoushka after their well-known wedding in August 2009.
In April 2022, it was discovered that Akshata had failed to pay U.K. taxes on her foreign income because of her position as a “non-domicile.” Later, she gave up that title in order to not interfere with her husband’s political ambitions.
Sunak, a devout Hindu, is well-known for taking his oath of office while reciting passages from the Bhagavad Gita and for publicly celebrating the festival of Diwali.
With a reported net worth of £730 million as of May 2022, Sunak is the wealthiest prime minister in British history, thanks in significant part to his wife’s family money. He owned a mansion in Kirby Sigston, Yorkshire, two homes in west London, and a beachfront apartment in Santa Monica, California at the time.
Along with his claimed passions for football, cricket, and general fitness, Sunak frequently mentions his love of Star Wars on social media and is said to have a collection of lightsabers.