UK's Next Leader Is a Historic One

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak will be first minister of color in the UK
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2022 7:31 AM CDT
Updated Oct 24, 2022 8:20 AM CDT
Victory for UK's Likely PM May Come on a Fitting Day
Rishi Sunak, then Britain's chancellor of the exchequer, speaks during a press conference in March 21.   (Tolga Akmen/Pool Photo via AP, FIle)

(This file has been updated throughout with new details.) Britain's next prime minister will be 42-year-old Rishi Sunak. The former finance minister's path to victory improved dramatically on Sunday when Boris Johnson dropped out, then became a lock on Monday when his last challenger—fellow Conservative Penny Mordaunt—did the same, reports the Guardian. Monday was the deadline to line up the necessary support of party lawmakers, and Mourdant apparently realized she had no chance. Related:

  • Fitting timing: Sunak will be the first person of color to be UK prime minister, notes the Washington Post. He is of Indian descent, and the BBC points out a fitting coincidence: The news comes on Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

  • Told you so: Sunak lost to Liz Truss in September, and his predictions that her economic policies were a mess have proven to be spot on. “Clearly, a lot of people are now thinking, he was right and Truss was wrong and they’ve proved that in spades,” Jill Rutter of the London-based Institute for Government tells the New York Times. “The UK has paid a high price for that and will continue to pay a high price for that lost credibility.”
  • Wealthy couple: Sunak has had a meteoric rise in politics, having been named chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) by Johnson at age 39. He is married to Akshata Murthy, daughter of one of India's richest men (Narayana Murthy, a co-founder of Infosys). The couple's wealth has led to accusations that Sunak is out of touch with ordinary Brits hit hard by inflation, notes the Times. Controversy over their finances may be his greatest political liability, and the BBC has a separate story with details. The couple met at Stanford University.
(More Rishi Sunak stories.)

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