Rishi Sunak: A Profile
From his entry into politics to becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer in just 5 years, Rishi Sunak has been described as a ‘rising star’ in the Conservative Party. His time as Chancellor has certainly not been easy, with the UK suffering the worst recession in 300 years and Brexit transforming the British economy.
This cheat-sheet will help you better understand Rishi Sunak’s background and political career.
Rishi Sunak was born on 12th May 1980 in Southampton, England. He is a British Conservative politician and has served as Chancellor of the Exchequer since February 2020. His family is of Indian origin and he is a Hindu. He studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, and later studied for an MBA at Stanford University.
Sunak is the second-youngest Chancellor to ever hold office, after George Osborne, and the second non-white Chancellor, following Sajid Javid.
Before his entry into politics, Sunak had a successful business career. He worked at Goldman Sachs for three years and later co-founded an investment company, working with businesses all over the world.
Early political career
Sunak has served as the MP for Richmond (Yorkshire) since 2015, a safe Conservative seat previously held by William Hague. Since then, he has held a number of junior roles in government, such as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Local Government.
He backed Leave in the 2016 EU Referendum and supported Boris Johnson’s campaign in the Conservative leadership election after Theresa May’s resignation in 2019. Johnson then appointed Sunak as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, working under his predecessor Chancellor Sajid Javid. He subsequently replaced Javid as Chancellor of the Exchequer in a cabinet re-shuffle in 2020.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Since starting his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer in February 2020, Sunak has led the government’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit.
A poll by Ipsos MORI in September 2020 revealed that Sunak has the highest satisfaction core of any Chancellor since 1978, which was largely due to his efforts to stabilise the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He introduced several extraordinary measures to protect the economy, most notably the furlough scheme to protect jobs and businesses, and the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme to safeguard the hospitality industry.
Political positions and voting record
Sunak’s voting behaviour shows that he consistently follows the Conservative Party line, especially on economic issues:
Against membership of the European Union (EU)
For a reduction in spending for welfare benefits
Against higher taxes on banks
Against measures to prevent climate change
For a stricter asylum system
For stronger enforcement of immigration rules
Against transferring more powers to Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly
For reducing the rate of corporation tax
The ministerial code binds ministers to declare their interests that may conflict with their duty to the public, as well as the interests of close family members. However, Sunak is accused of failing to declare his family’s financial interests. He failed to report his wife Akshata Murthy’s multimillion-pound share in the company Infosys, and therefore Sunak has been referred to the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
For more information on this topic, see our dedicated section on UK Politics.