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Who is Rishi Sunak?

Chancellor of the Exchequer arose from obscurity

By Ricky Browne

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has arisen quickly from relalitve obscurity, and yet could be in line to be the UK’s next prime minister, at least according to some political observers.

Recently there has been talk that Prime Minister Boris Johnson may resign early in the new year, after getting Britain out of its transition period with the European Union (EU), as he may wish to make more money than the measily £150,000 pounds that he now has to survive on, especially as he has a new born child to consider.

While many may think this an unlikely scenario, especially so early into his administration, and especially having led the Conservative party to its landslide victory last year, others are now considering who would be first in line to take over.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is seen as the front runner by many of these speculators.

Sunak is 40 years old and is married to Aksata. They have two children Krishna and Anoushk.

Sunak is already known to be a very wealthy man in his own right, having made a fortune by co-founding an investment company, thanks largely to some help from his father-in-law.

But what wasn’t as well known is how wealthy his wife is.

Rishi Sunak with his wife Akshata Murty at the 60th anniversary of the Friends of the Friarage. Photo:: Richard Doughty

An article on Friday by the Guardian says that his wife has a fortune of some £450 million pounds thanks to shares in Infosys, the global IT company based in India, which was co-founded by her father. It is speculated that she may be more wealthy than Queen Elizabeth.

Sunak wouldn’t be the first successful politician to marry well, as former Prime Minister David Cameron can no doubt attest. But he is perhaps the first politician to be married to someone who is wealthier than the head of state.

Like Johnson, he has had a successful career before entering politics. But while Johnson had a long run-up in the public eye before becoming Prime Minister, well known for years for his newspaper columns and then his term as London mayor, before becoming the Foreign Minister under Theresa May — Sunak was largely unknown until earlier this year.

Sunak poses at home with his family

“I grew up watching my parents serve our local community with dedication,” writes Sunak on his LinkedIn profile.

“My dad was an NHS family GP and my mum ran her own local chemists. I wanted to make that same positive difference to people as an MP and I was first elected to represent the wonderful constituency of Richmond (Yorks) in 2015 and re-elected in 2017.

“I have been fortunate to enjoy a successful business career. I co-founded a large investment firm, working with companies from Silicon Valley to Bangalore. Then I used that experience to help small and entrepreneurial British companies grow successfully.

“In July 2019 I was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury, having entered Government service as the Minister for Local Government in January 2018. In February 2020, I had the honour to be appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. “

He goes into more detail on his personal site at https://www.rishisunak.com/.

Sunak attended public school Winchester College

“My parents sacrificed a great deal so I could attend good schools. I was lucky to study at Winchester College, Oxford University and Stanford University. That experience changed my life and as a result I am passionate about ensuring everybody has access to a great education. I have been a school governor, a board member of a large youth club, and have always volunteered my time to education programmes that spread opportunity.

“I have been lucky to live, study and work internationally. I met my wife, Akshata, in California where we lived for a number of years before returning home. We have two daughters, Krishna and Anoushka, who keep us busy and entertained.

Stanford University in California where Sunak studied and met his wife

“In July 2019 I was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury, having entered Government service as the Minister for Local Government in January 2018. In February 2020, I had the honour to be appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

In my spare time I enjoy keeping fit, cricket, football and movies.”

Sunak took over the position of Chancellor just as the world economy and Britain along with it was entering the most challenging period it has faced since at least World War II. Along with Johnson, he has led the country’s strategy in trying to keep the economy afloat, and to minimise the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on peoples lives.

Despite the massive economic stimulus, unemployment is increasing, and the economy itself has shrunk by about 11 percent, the most calamoutous decrease since the Great Frost of 1709 according to records.

So far, he has received high marks for his handling of the crisis, although how long that will hold when the real belt tightening begins remains to be seen.

But as it stands now, it would appear that he has a more favourable public view than most of his fellow ministers.

FOLLOWERS

The number of followers he has on Twitter can be an indicator of how strong his base is.

On Facebook, Sunak has 434,000 followers. That puts him ahead of most of his fellow ministers in the Conservative government. It compares favourably to 365000, for Health Secretary Matt Hancock, 295,000 followers for Home Secretary Pritti Patel, 276,00 for Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and 207,000 for Michael Gove.

Sunak with Prime minister Boris Johnson

There’s still lots of room for improvement though. Opposition Leader Keir Starmer has one million followers on Twitter, while the Prime mister has 3.1 million

On the LinkedIn social media site, which is predominantly for business professionals, Sunak far exceeds Johnson. The Chancellor has 406,000 followers there, compared to 133,000 for Johnson.

Sunak is one of those followers. He also follows the House of Commons on LinkedIn, HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Conservative Party. But top position goes to Southampton Football Club and its 26,000 followers on LinkedIn.

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