#Ready4Rishi: Race for first British Indian UK PM begins

#Ready4Rishi: Race for first British Indian UK PM begins

Rishi Sunak, the former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, has formally launched his leadership bid to succeed Boris Johnson as the new Conservative Party leader and future Prime Minister with a promise to lead the UK in the “right direction”.

The British Indian minister, who resigned from the UK Cabinet earlier this week setting off events in motion that ultimately led to Johnson’s resignation, becomes the highest profile Tory member of Parliament yet to throw his hat in the ring for the leadership race. His #Ready4Rishi campaign kicked off with a message on Twitter, accompanied by a video made up of images of his Indian-origin grandparents and parents who migrated to the UK via East Africa.

The 42-year-old MP for Richmond in Yorkshire since 2015 promises to lead the country in the right direction based on “non-negotiable values" of "patriotism, fairness and hard work".

Referring to his most recent role as finance minister, Sunak – married to Akshata Murty, the daughter of Indian software major Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy – points out how he ran the “toughest department” in the UK government through the toughest times when faced with the nightmare of COVID.

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“We’ve had enough of division. Politics at its best is a unifying endeavour and I have spent my career bringing people together because that is the only way to succeed,” he said, adding that he would set out more about his vision in the coming days and weeks.

Sunak has long been seen as an heir apparent to Johnson at 10 Downing Street and is believed to have garnered the support of a significant chunk of the Tory party to launch his candidacy.

“We need to make sure that's not the end of the British Indian story. There's lots more we can achieve. There's lots more we can do. And I'm really excited about the future,” he told reporters last week, when asked if he could go on to be the first Indian-origin Prime Minister of the UK.

“I’m incredibly proud of where I come from. It will always be an enormous part of who I am. And it brings me joy to live, and belong, in a country where, for all our faults, for all our challenges, someone like me can become Chancellor. Our task now is to make sure that’s not the end of the British Indian story, but the beginning,” he noted in a speech at the India Global Forum’s UK-India Awards ceremony last week.

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Sunak, who was born and grew up in the coastal English town of Southampton, has referred to Britain as a “rewarding Karma Bhoomi” as he reflected upon the sacrifices made by his National Health Service (NHS) general practitioner (GP) father Yashvir and pharmacist mother Usha.

The Oxford and Stanford University alumni entered politics just before the Brexit referendum in 2016 and moved into junior roles in the UK’s Treasury department before being promoted to the top job of Chancellor in February 2020, just weeks before the UK was forced into its first pandemic lockdown.

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