Rishi Sunak (born 12 May 1980) is a British politician who has served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom since 25 October 2022 and Leader of the Conservative Party since 24 October 2022. Sunak served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2020 to 2022 and Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 2019 to 2020, and he has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Richmond (Yorks) since 2015.
Sunak was born in Southampton to parents of Indian descent who migrated to Britain from East Africa in the 1960s. He was educated at Winchester College, studied philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Lincoln College, Oxford, and earned an MBA from Stanford University as a Fulbright Scholar. +more While at Stanford, he met his future wife Akshata Murty, the daughter of Indian billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys. After graduating, Sunak worked for Goldman Sachs and later as a partner at the hedge fund firms The Children's Investment Fund Management and Theleme Partners.
Sunak was elected to the House of Commons for Richmond in North Yorkshire at the 2015 general election, succeeding William Hague. Sunak supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum on EU membership. +more He was appointed to Theresa May's second government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government in the 2018 reshuffle. He voted three times in favour of May's Brexit withdrawal agreement. After May resigned, Sunak supported Boris Johnson's campaign to become Conservative leader. After Johnson became Prime Minister, Sunak was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Sunak replaced Sajid Javid as Chancellor of the Exchequer after Javid's resignation in the February 2020 cabinet reshuffle. As Chancellor, Sunak was prominent in the government's financial response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, including the Coronavirus Job Retention and Eat Out to Help Out schemes. He resigned as chancellor in July 2022, followed by Johnson's resignation amid a government crisis.
Sunak stood in the Conservative party leadership election to replace Johnson, and lost the members' vote to Liz Truss. After Truss's resignation amid a government crisis, Sunak was elected unopposed as Leader of the Conservative Party on 24 October 2022. +more He was appointed Prime Minister by King Charles III, the first to be appointed during his reign, a day later, becoming the first British Asian and Hindu to hold that position.
Early life and education
Sunak was born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton General Hospital in Southampton, Hampshire, to Southeast African-born Hindu parents of Indian Punjabi descent, Yashvir and Usha Sunak. Rishi Sunak attended Stroud School, a preparatory school in Romsey, and Winchester College, a boys' independent boarding school, where he was head boy. +more He was a waiter at a curry house in Southampton during his summer holidays. He read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Lincoln College, Oxford, graduating with a first in 2001. During his time at university, he undertook an internship at Conservative Campaign Headquarters. In 2006, he gained an MBA from Stanford University, where he was a Fulbright scholar.
His father, Yashvir Sunak, was born and raised in the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya (present-day Kenya), and is a general practitioner in the National Health Service. His mother, Usha Sunak, born in Tanganyika (which later became part of Tanzania), is currently the director and pharmacist at the Sunak Pharmacy in Southampton and has a degree from Aston University. +more They married in 1977 in Leicester.
Rishi Sunak is the eldest of three siblings. His brother, Sanjay (born 1982), is a psychologist and his sister, Raakhi Williams (born 1985), works in New York as chief of strategy and planning at the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies.
Sunak worked as an analyst for the investment bank Goldman Sachs between 2001 and 2004. He then worked for hedge fund management firm the Children's Investment Fund Management, becoming a partner in September 2006. +more He left in November 2009 to join former colleagues in California at a new hedge fund firm, Theleme Partners, which launched in October 2010 with $700 million under management. At both hedge funds, his boss was Patrick Degorce. Sunak was also a director of the investment firm Catamaran Ventures, owned by his father-in-law, the Indian businessman N. R. Narayana Murthy between 2013 and 2015.
Early political career
Member of Parliament
Sunak was selected as the Conservative candidate for Richmond (Yorks) in October 2014, defeating Wendy Morton. The seat was previously held by William Hague, a former leader of the party, Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State. +more The seat is one of the safest Conservative seats in the United Kingdom and has been held by the party for over 100 years. In the same year Sunak was head of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit of centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, for which he co-wrote a report on BME communities in the UK. He was elected as MP for the constituency at the 2015 general election with a majority of 19,550 (36. 2%). During the 2015-2017 parliament he was a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.
Sunak supported Brexit (the UK leaving the European Union) at the June 2016 EU membership referendum. That year, he wrote a report for the Centre for Policy Studies (a Thatcherite think tank) supporting the establishment of free ports after Brexit, and the following year wrote a report advocating the creation of a retail bond market for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Sunak was re-elected at the 2017 general election, with an increased majority of 23,108 (40. 5%). +more He served as parliamentary under-secretary of state for local government between January 2018 and July 2019. Sunak voted for then-Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement on all three occasions, and voted against a second referendum on any withdrawal agreement.
Sunak supported Boris Johnson in the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election and co-wrote an article with fellow MPs Robert Jenrick and Oliver Dowden to advocate for Johnson during the campaign in June.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Sunak was re-elected in the 2019 general election with an increased majority of 27,210 (47. 2%). +more During the election campaign, Sunak represented the Conservatives in both BBC's and ITV's seven-way election debates.
Chancellor of the Exchequer (2020-2022)
In the weeks before Sunak's appointment as chancellor of the Exchequer, press briefings suggested that a new economic ministry led by Sunak might be established to reduce the power and influence of Chancellor Javid at the Treasury. Sunak was considered a Johnson loyalist, favoured by Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings, and was seen as the "rising star" that had ably represented Johnson during the 2019 election debates. +more In February 2020, The Guardian reported that Javid would remain in his role as Chancellor and that Sunak would remain chief secretary to the Treasury, so that Cummings could "keep an eye" on Javid.
On 13 February, Sunak was promoted to chancellor as part of a cabinet reshuffle. Javid had resigned that day following a meeting with Johnson. +more During the meeting, Johnson had offered to keep his position on the condition that he dismiss all of his advisers at the Treasury, to be replaced with individuals selected by Cummings. Javid told the Press Association that "no self-respecting minister would accept those terms". Some political commentators saw Sunak's appointment as signalling the end of the Treasury's independence from Downing Street, with Robert Shrimsley, chief political commentator of the Financial Times, arguing that "good government often depends on senior ministers - and the Chancellor in particular - being able to fight bad ideas".
As the pandemic generated financial consequences, Chancellor Sunak's measures received criticism as some workers were unable to qualify for the Treasury's income support measures. The acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, said that people were being unfairly "hung out to dry", with "their dream jobs turning into nightmares" after hundreds of MPs contacted the Chancellor. +more The Institute for Employment Studies estimated that 100,000 people could not be eligible for any type of government help as they started a new job too late to be included on the job retention scheme, while the British Hospitality Association informed the Treasury Select Committee that between 350,000 and 500,000 workers in its sector were not eligible.
Sunak received a fixed penalty notice alongside Johnson for attending a party, but he did not deliver a statement or resign.
Job retention scheme
On 17 March 2020, Sunak introduced a programme providing £330 billion in emergency support for businesses, as well as a furlough scheme for employees. This was the first time a British government had created such an employee retention scheme. +more The scheme was introduced on 20 March 2020 as providing grants to employers to pay 80% of a staff wage and employment costs each month, up to a total of £2,500 per person per month. The cost has been estimated at £14 billion a month to run.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme initially ran for three months and was backdated to 1 March. Following a three-week extension of the countrywide lockdown the scheme was extended by Sunak until the end of June 2020. +more At the end of May, Sunak extended the scheme until the end of October 2020. The decision to extend the job retention scheme was made to avoid or defer mass redundancies, company bankruptcies and potential unemployment levels not seen since the 1930s. After a second lockdown in England on 31 October 2020, the programme was further extended until 2 December 2020, this was followed on 5 November 2020 by a lengthy extension until 31 March 2021. On 17 December 2020, the programme was further extended until 30 April 2021. In the 2021 United Kingdom budget held on 3 March 2021, Sunak confirmed that the scheme had been extended once more until 30 September 2021.
Following changes to the scheme at the end of May, the director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said that being asked to pay wages when businesses had not been trading was an added pressure, while the Federation of Small Businesses was surprised that the Chancellor was tapering the scheme when ending it. Northern Ireland's economy minister Diane Dodds said that changes to the scheme could be very difficult for some sectors uncertain about when they can reopen, particularly in the hospitality and retail sector, whilst finance minister Conor Murphy said that it was too early in the economic recovery. +more By 15 August 80,433 firms had returned £215,756,121 that had been claimed under the scheme. Other companies had claimed smaller amounts of grant cash on the next instalment to compensate for any overpayment. HM Revenue and Customs officials believed that £3. 5 billion may have been paid out in error or to fraudsters.
Fraud against the schemes
In June 2020, David Clarke, chair of the Fraud Advisory Panel charity and a group of top white-collar crime experts wrote a letter to Sunak, the National Audit Office, and others, to alert them to the risk of fraud against the government tax-payer backed stimulus schemes. They called for publication of the names of companies receiving Bounce Back Loans to enable data matching to prevent, deter and detect fraud. +more In September 2020, it emerged that Government Ministers were warned about the risk of fraud against the financial support schemes by Keith Morgan, CEO of the state-owned British Business Bank who had concerns about the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and Future Fund. In December 2020, it was reported that banks and the National Crime Agency also had concerns about fraudulent abuse of the Bounce Back Loan Scheme.
In January 2021, the NCA reported that three city workers who worked for the same London financial institution had been arrested as part of an investigation into fraudulent Bounce Back Loans totalling £6 million. The NCA said the men were suspected of using their "specialist knowledge" to carry out the fraud. +more This form of insider fraud was a risk highlighted in the letter sent to Sunak in June 2020. A 2022 Freedom of Information request to the British Business Bank, the state-run body administering the bounce back loan scheme, found that almost one-fifth, or 193,000 businesses had failed to meet their repayment terms as at 27 June 2022. The UK government estimated that £4. 9 billion of bounce back loans may have been lost to fraud.
The Future Fund, is a £1. 1 billion investment portfolio set up by Sunak in May 2020 and managed by the British Business Bank. +more The fund invested in 1,190 mainly early-stage companies at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. One director overseeing the portfolio described the companies as mostly "zombie businesses", leaving the fund with "a significant tail of dormant companies". Future Fund investments include sex-party firm Killing Kittens and events start-up Pollen, which fell into administration in August 2022.
Eat Out to Help Out
In July, Sunak unveiled a plan for a further £30 billion of spending which included a stamp duty holiday, a cut to value-added tax (VAT) for the hospitality sector, a job retention bonus for employers and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, aimed at supporting and creating jobs in the hospitality industry. The government subsidised food and soft drinks at participating cafes, pubs and restaurants at 50%, up to £10 per person. +more The offer was available from 3 to 31 August on Monday to Wednesday each week. In total, the scheme subsidised £849 million in meals. Some consider the scheme to be a success in boosting the hospitality industry, however others disagree. In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study at the University of Warwick concluded that the scheme contributed to a rise in COVID-19 infections of between 8% and 17%.
On 26 September, Sunak was said to have opposed a second lockdown with the threat of his resignation, due to what he saw as the dire economic consequences it would have and the responsibility he would have to suffer for that.
March 2021 budget
In his March 2021 budget, he stated that the deficit had risen to £355 billion in the fiscal year 2020/2021, the highest in peacetime. The budget included an increase in the rate of corporation tax from 19% to 25% in 2023, a five-year freeze in the tax-free personal allowance and the higher rate income tax threshold, and the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of September. +more Sunak was the first Chancellor to raise the corporation tax rate since Healey in 1974.
Fixed penalty notice
On 12 April 2022, Sunak was issued with a fixed penalty notice after the Metropolitan Police believed he had breached COVID lockdown restrictions by attending a birthday party. A total of 82 others also received fixed penalty notices, including Johnson.
Cost of living crisis
In October 2021, Sunak made his third budget statement. It included substantial spending promises to a large extent related to science and education.
Sunak made his spring statement on 23 March 2022. He said that the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic had been disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. +more He cut fuel duty, removed VAT on energy saving equipment (such as solar panels and insulation) and reduced national insurance payments for small businesses. While continuing with a planned national insurance rise in April, he promised to align the primary threshold with the basic personal income allowance as of July, and promised a reduction in income tax in 2024. The Office for Budget Responsibility said that the tax burden would reach its highest level since the 1940s. Sunak also provided some funding to help vulnerable people cope with the rising cost of living.
Sunak hosted a G7 summit in London in June 2021. A tax reform agreement was signed, which in principle sought to establish a global minimum tax on multinationals and online technology companies. +more In October 2021, the OECD signed an accord to join the tax reform plan.
Sunak privately lobbied to impose a green levy, which would have led to higher petrol and diesel prices, to help pay for the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The proposed Fossil Fuels Emissions Trading Scheme, drawn up by the Treasury, sought to levy pollution from road transportation, as well as shipping, building heating and diesel trains, which together make up more than 40% of UK carbon emissions. +more The proposal was ultimately rejected by Boris Johnson, who instructed officials that he did not want to increase costs for consumers.
He promoted trade talks in pursuit of stronger economic ties with China.
Sunak proposed new laws that would pave the way for stablecoins to be used for everyday payments, despite fears from the Bank of England about the financial stability of the technology. In April 2022, Sunak ordered the Royal Mint to create a UK government-backed non-fungible token (NFT) to be issued by summer 2022.
Sunak and his family's wealth
In November 2020, Sunak was reported by The Guardian to have not declared a significant amount of his wife and family's financial interests on the register of ministers' interests, including a combined £1. 7billion shareholding in the Indian company Infosys. +more Ministers are required to declare interests that are "relevant" to their responsibilities and "which might be thought to give rise to a conflict" with their public duties. The independent adviser on ministers' interests investigated and concluded that Sunak had not broken any rules.
In early 2022, newspapers reported that Sunak's wife Akshata Murty had non-domiciled status, meaning she did not have to pay tax on income earned abroad while living in the UK. The status cost approximately £30,000 to secure, and allowed her to avoid paying an estimated £20 million in UK taxes. +more Following media controversy, Murty stated on 8 April that she would pay UK taxes on her global income, adding in a statement that she did not want the issue "to be a distraction for my husband". A Whitehall inquiry was launched into who had leaked the details of her tax status. Labour party leader Keir Starmer accused Sunak of "taxation 'hypocrisy' on the grounds that he was putting up taxes for ordinary Britons while his family had been reducing its own tax liabilities".
Reporting around this time also revealed that Sunak had continued to hold United States' permanent resident (green card) status he had acquired in the 2000s until 2021, including for 18 months after he was Britain's treasury Chancellor, which required his filing annual US tax returns. An investigation into both his wife's tax status and his residency status found that Sunak had not broken ministerial rules.
On 5 July 2022, Sunak resigned as chancellor moments after Sajid Javid resigned as health secretary, amid a controversy surrounding the sexual harassment allegations against Chris Pincher MP. In his resignation letter Sunak said: "the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously. +more I recognise this may be my last ministerial job, but I believe these standards are worth fighting for and that is why I am resigning. In preparation for our proposed joint speech on the economy next week, it has become clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different. " After further resignations, Boris Johnson resigned as Conservative party leader on 7 July.
2022 Conservative leadership bids
July - September 2022
On 8 July 2022, Sunak stood in the Conservative party leadership election to replace Johnson. Sunak launched his campaign in a video posted to social media, writing that he would "restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country". +more He said his values were "patriotism, fairness, hard work". Sunak pledged to "crack down on gender neutral language". The domain readyforrishi. com was first registered with GoDaddy on 23 December 2021, while ready4rishi. com was registered on 6 July 2022, two days after Sunak resigned as chancellor. The former domain acts as a redirect to the latter. Conservative politicians who had supported Johnson criticised Sunak as "leading the charge in bringing down the prime minister" with Johnson ally Jacob Rees-Mogg calling him a "high tax chancellor".
Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss emerged as the final two candidates in the contest on 20 July to be put forward to the membership for the final leadership vote; he had received the most votes in each of the series of MP votes with Sunak receiving 137 to Truss's 113 in the final round. In the membership vote, Truss received 57. +more4% of the vote, making her the new leader over Sunak.
Sunak's pledges during the campaign included tax cuts only when inflation was under control, scrapping of the 5% VAT rate on household energy for one year, introducing a temporary £10 fine for patients who fail to attend GP appointments, capping of refugee numbers, and a tightening of the definition of asylum.
During the campaign, a clip from the 2001 BBC documentary Middle Classes: Their Rise and Sprawl, emerged in July 2022 in which he remarked, "I have friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper class, I have friends who are, you know, working class but. +more well not working class". Sunak commented on the clip that "We all say silly things when we are younger". A video of Sunak speaking to an audience in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, emerged in August 2022 in which he said he changed funding formulas which "shoved" money into "deprived urban areas", "to make sure that areas like this are getting the funding they deserve. " Sunak responded that he wanted to "level up everywhere" and not just help "very large urban cities". Following Liz Truss's victory in the 2022 Conservative Party leadership election, Sunak returned to the backbenches.
Truss resigned on 20 October 2022, leading to a leadership contest. On 22 October, it was reported that Sunak had the required number of supporters-100 members of the House of Commons-to run in the ballot on 24 October. +more Tobias Ellwood wrote on Twitter that he was "honoured to be the 100th Tory MP to support #Ready4Rishi". The total number of MPs who publicly declared support passed 100 on the afternoon of 22 October. On 23 October, Sunak declared that he would stand for election. After Johnson ruled himself out of the race and Mordaunt withdrew, Sunak was announced as the new Leader of the Conservative Party and subsequently as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2022-present)
Sunak began appointing his cabinet on 25 October 2022. He appointed Dominic Raab as Deputy Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. +more Sunak reappointed Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor of the Exchequer, James Cleverly as Foreign Secretary, and Ben Wallace as Secretary of State for Defence. He also appointed Nadhim Zahawi as Chairman of the Conservative Party. Sunak controversially appointed Suella Braverman as Home Secretary. Labour and Liberal Democrats have demanded an inquiry into Braverman's return to the cabinet despite an alleged security breach when Braverman shared secure information with a colleague.
In a reversal of his predecessor's policy, on 26 October Sunak reinstated the ban on fracking as outlined in the Conservative 2019 manifesto.
In October, Sunak said that he would not attend the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt, to allow him to concentrate on urgent domestic matters. Following pressure from MPs, environmentalist campaigners and others, Sunak announced that he would attend.
According to Euronews, Sunak is "frequently perceived as a pragmatist and as belonging to the centre-ground of the Conservative Party. " He opposed the fiscal policies of his predecessor, Liz Truss, and although described as a fellow Thatcherite, is viewed as less economically libertarian than Truss. +more Sunak supports Ukraine against the Russian invasion of the country and supports economic sanctions against Russia, but opposes British military intervention in Ukraine. Sunak supported the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
He called China the "biggest long-term threat" to Britain, adding that "They torture, detain and indoctrinate their own people, including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, in contravention of their human rights. And they have continually rigged the global economy in their favour by suppressing their currency. +more" He accused China of supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin and also said that China was "stealing our technology and infiltrating our universities".
As British Chancellor, Sunak opposed US President Joe Biden's plan to introduce a minimum 21 percent global business tax.
In August 2022, he proposed widening the Prevent strategy by widening the definition of "extremism".
On crime, Sunak proposed an automatic one-year extension to prison sentences for prolific criminals, as well as cutting the minimum sentence before a foreign criminal is eligible for deportation from twelve months to six. He proposed life imprisonment for leaders of child grooming gangs, and for police to record the ethnicity of those involved in such gangs.
Energy and the environment
Sunak has signed the Conservative Environment Pledge (CEP), as shown on the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) website which has the support of approximately 127 MPs. The CEP has five main commitments, which are in summary: i) Using Brexit freedoms for the environment and sustainable farming. +more ii) Backing British clean energy suppliers so as to boost energy security. iii) Encouraging the use of domestic insulation and electric vehicle charging points. iv) Implemeting the Environment Act. v) Backing technologies that will help to achieve clean growth. During the leadership contest held over summer 2022, Sunak told the CEN that he was engaged with the protection of the environment for future generations.
Sunak has said he is committed to keeping the legal commitment of reaching net zero by 2050. During the summer, he said that he intended to make the UK energy independent by 2045, while advocating for more offshore windpower, more solar panels on rooftops and improved insulation of homes to make them more energy efficient. +more Simon Hoare, MP for North Devon, said that Sunak recognises the need to be a government with its focus on the environment, delivering sustainable growth. Sunak is said to have listened to fellow MPs with a green agenda and that he was a believer in net zero for the UK. However, Sunak also voted against a call for Britain to eliminate most greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 2030.
While campaigning in August 2022, Sunak wrote that he would restrict the use of solar panels on farmland but would make sure solar is installed on commercial buildings, properties and sheds. "On my watch, we will not lose swathes of our best farmland to solar farms. +more" The trade association Solar Energy U. K. said the solar industry was "deeply concerned" with candidates Sunak and Truss' intentions.
Sunak has backed fracking, where it is supported by local residents. On 19 October in the debate on "Ban on Fracking for Shale Gas Bill (Division 66)", he voted with the government against the ban on fracking. +more Fracking had been banned by the government in November 2019 after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority found that it was not possible at that time to predict the probability or strength of earthquakes caused by fracking.
While Chancellor, Sunak attended COP 26 in Glasgow. During the speech he gave on 3 November, he said that he felt optimism despite daunting challenges and that by bringing together finance ministers, businesses and investors, COP 26 could begin to deliver targets from the Paris Agreement. +more He outlined three actions: First, the need for increased public investment, with the U. K. committing £100 million to the Taskforce on Access to Climate Finance. He announced support for a new Capital Markets Mechanism which will issue green bonds in the U. K. to fund renewable energy in developing countries. Second, mobilising private finance, with the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero bringing together organisations with assets over $130 trillion to be deployed. Third, the rewiring of the entire global financial system for net zero, which would include better climate data, mandatory sustainability disclosures, climate risk surveillance and stronger global reporting standards. Also announced was that the UK will become the first ever ‘Net Zero Aligned Financial Centre’.
During an interview in July 2022, Sunak said that wind generation will be a part of his governments' energy policies, but he wanted to reassure communities that there would not be a relaxation of the current onshore planning laws, with more of a focus on offshore wind farms. This stance was confirmed recently by the PM's press team, who said that Sunak wants "offshore not onshore wind". +more When asked about wind generation by MP Alan Whitehead at Prime Minister's Questions (26 October), Sunak responded that, as outlined in the Conservative manifesto of 2019, he would focus on long term energy security, including more offshore wind. Onshore wind generation was made difficult by the National Planning Policy Framework 2016 Update, but as part of his predecessors' polices, the planning laws were set to be relaxed.
On LGBT rights, in July 2022 during a debate, Sunak said that he wanted the UK to be "the safest and greatest country in the world to be LGBT+". When asked about alleged or perceived transphobia within his party, he stated that "prejudice against trans people is wrong. +more The Conservative Party is an open, welcoming family to everybody across society, no matter who they are and irrespective of their background. " Sunak believes that transgender people should be "respected", but said that he views biology as "important" and "fundamental" regarding bathrooms and competitive sports.
Sunak has expressed support for lowering net migration. An official spokesperson said, "He’s committed to ensuring we have control over our borders and the public rightly expects us to control immigration and have a system that works best for the UK. +more" He has said that the "current asylum system is broken and it needs to be fixed urgently", saying he would, in his first 100 days as prime minister, "tighten our statutory definition of who qualifies for asylum in the UK . This will prevent anyone who enters the UK illegally from staying here", that the "Parliament will be given control of the number of refugees we accept each year", that he "cannot underestimate the role of data sharing which will make it easier to identify people who are in the UK illegally", and that the Rwanda asylum plan "is the right one", among other things. Responding to criticism surrounding some of his proposals about illegal immigration, Sunak said there was "absolutely nothing racist" about it.
At the start of 2020, following his appointment as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sunak arrived in public discourse from relative obscurity. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was popular by the standards of British politics, described by one analyst as having "better ratings than any politician since the heydays of Tony Blair". +more In an Ipsos MORI poll in September 2020, Sunak had the highest satisfaction score of any British Chancellor since Labour's Denis Healey in April 1978. Sunak developed a cult media following, with jokes and gossip about his attractiveness widespread on social media and in magazines.
By early 2022, with the cost of living becoming a growing focus of public concern, Sunak's response, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was perceived as inadequate and he received some of his lowest approval ratings. This fall continued as the Sunak family's financial affairs came under scrutiny. +more On 6 September 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Sunak gave a statement of condolence to the late Queen: "Thank you. For a lifetime of service to our country, for showing us what duty means and for always putting the country and commonwealth first. There will never be another like Queen Elizabeth II. ".
Sunak is a Hindu. His name is Hindi: and Gurumukhi: . +more He took his oath as an MP at the House of Commons on the Bhagavad Gita. In August 2009, he married Akshata Murty, the daughter of N. R. Narayana Murthy, the founder of the technology company Infosys in which Akshata Murty owns a stake, making her one of the wealthiest women in Britain. In 2022 Sunak and his wife were seen celebrating the Hindu festival of Krishna Janmashtami and worshipping a cow at Bhaktivedanta Manor temple in Hertfordshire.
Sunak and Murty met while studying at Stanford University in the U. S. +more; they have two daughters, Krishna (born 2011) and Anoushka (born 2013). Murty is a director of her father's investment firm, Catamaran Ventures. They own Kirby Sigston Manor in the village of Kirby Sigston, North Yorkshire, as well as a mews house in Earl's Court in central London, a flat on the Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, and a penthouse apartment on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California. Sunak is a teetotaller. He has stated he is a Coca-Cola addict and now has seven dental fillings due to excessive consumption when he was younger. He was previously a governor of the East London Science School. Sunak has a Labrador called Nova and is a cricket, tennis and horse racing enthusiast. In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, Sunak spoke out against the racism he faced in his life and how his family struggled while immigrating to Britain in the 1960s.
Sunak is a close friend of The Spectator political editor James Forsyth, whom he has known since their school days. Sunak was the best man at Forsyth's wedding to the journalist Allegra Stratton, and they are godparents to each other's children. +more In April 2022, it was reported that Sunak and Murty had moved out of 11 Downing Street to a newly refurbished West London home.