6 Things You Should Know About UK’s New PM, Rishi Sunak

6 Things You Should Know About UK’s New PM, Rishi Sunak

By Wires Editor | The Trent on October 24, 2022
Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak becoming prime minister will introduce a number of symbolic cultural milestones – including him becoming the first non-white British prime minister.

The former Chancellor will take office on Diwali – a hugely symbolic moment considering his Indian Hindu heritage.

He will become the first Hindu prime minister of Britain after his coronation.

Groups heralded the move a “historic moment” that shows the highest office “can be open to those of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds”.

Mr Sunak is a practicing Hindu and takes his Commons oath on the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit text.

He was born in 1980 in Southampton to African-born parents of Punjabi descent.

His grandparents were born in India and emigrated to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s.

Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: “Rishi Sunak becoming the first British Indian Prime Minister is a historic moment. This simply would not have been possible even a decade or two ago… we should not underestimate this important social change.”

He pointed out that when Mr Sunak was bornin 1980, there had been no Asian or black MPs in the post-war era.

When he is sworn in, Mr Sunak will be the UK’s first non-white prime minister and its second ethnic-minority prime minister after Benjamin Disraeli.

Youngest PM in modern political history

He will also be the youngest UK prime minister in modern political history.

At 42, he is a year younger than the current record-holder David Cameron, who was 43 when he became PM in 2010.

Tony Blair was also 43 when he became prime minister in 1997, but was a few months older than Mr Cameron at the time both won power.

Outgoing prime minister Liz Truss is 47.

Only two other PMs since 1900 have taken office below the age of 50 – John Major (47 in 1990) and Harold Wilson (48 in 1964).

Mr Sunak will not be the youngest prime minister ever to hold the office in this country, however.

As his name suggests, William Pitt the Younger was famous for his youthfulness and was just 24 when he first became prime minister in 1783.

A number of politicians in their 30s held the job of prime minister during the 18th century, while the Tory statesman Robert Jenkinson, the 2nd Earl of Liverpool had only just turned 42 when he took the job in 1812 – the same age as Mr Sunak, though five months younger.

He took over from Spencer Perceval, who was assassinated in the House of Commons in 1812.

Like Mr Sunak, Jenkinson didn’t win a general election either, but was directly appointed to the role by the then-monarch George IV.

Only third Tory PM to represent northern constituency

Also, he will be only the second Conservative prime minister representing a constituency in the north of England.

The first was Arthur Balfour, who was MP for Manchester East while serving as prime minister from 1902 to 1905.

He will be the third person to hold the job since the last general election, following Boris Johnson and Ms Truss.

The last time the UK clocked up three different prime ministers in the course of one parliament was in 1940, when Winston Churchill took the role following Stanley Baldwin (who served from 1935 to 1937) and Neville Chamberlain (1937-1940).

Fourth PM in row to take power without general election

Mr Sunak will also be the fourth prime minister in a row – after Theresa May, Mr Johnson, and Ms Truss – to take power without a general election.

It has been 12 years since an election last led directly to a change of prime minister, in 2010, when Mr Cameron took office at the head of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, replacing Gordon Brown’s Labour government.

It is necessary to go much further back in history to find the last time a prime minister both took and left office at a general election.

This was the fate of Edward Heath, who won power at the polls in 1970, only to lose it again in 1974.

And while Ms Truss had the shortest stay in office of any prime minister in British history, Mr Sunak is about to break new ground when it comes to shortness.

Shortest male PM since Churchill

Britain’s next prime minister is 170cm, or 5ft 6in tall.

This means he will become the shortest male prime minister since Sir Winston Churchill, who was just 168cm tall, or 5ft 6in.

Source: The Telegraph


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