Rishi Sunak Elected as the New Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

On October 25th of this year, Rishi Sunak was elected as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, making him the first person of color in office, and the 5th Prime Minister in 6 years.


On October 25th, Rishi Sunak was elected as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, making him the first person of color in office, and the fifth Prime Minister in six years. In recent years, the UK has been facing many issues like policies on immigration, leaving the European Union, and taxes. Recently Mr. Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, resigned after just 45 days in office, making her the shortest serving Prime Minister in Britain’s history. But what started all of the United Kingdom’s trouble?

Everything started to go downhill in 2016 when the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, proposed a vote on whether or not the UK should leave the European Union (EU), an international organization of European Countries that all work together to be more efficient. The decision to leave the EU was a difficult one, and ultimately the “leave” side won after a close vote from the citizens of Britain. This decision to leave the EU became known as Brexit. Supporters of Brexit thought there were too many refugees and immigrants coming in from other countries, and they argued that ending free migration for European Union citizens will allow more flexibility for British Citizens.Opposers of Brexit thought that the plan wasn’t thought out well enough and often  described it as an attempt to reclaim an imagined Britain of the past, one with fewer European migrants. Many people in England were dependent on jobs and opportunities tied to the EU, and believed that leaving would cause economic instability. When England was in the EU, they were very powerful and had a lot of trading partners. After the UK left the EU, it became clear that the plan proposed by Mr. Cameron and his allies from his Conservative party had some flaws. They had no real plan for undoing decades of economic and legal ties with the EU. This soon became apparent, and Mr. Cameron  resigned. Theresa May became the new Prime Minister, and struggled to come up with ideas to cleanly leave the EU. She lost support from her party and was forced to step down.

Then came Boris Johnson. He was very popular, and had lots of support from the public. He was elected Prime Minister after a landslide victory in 2019. Boris Johnson successfully completed Brexit, signing a 1200 page deal, which was put in place January 1st, 2021.The agreement included new guidelines on how the UK and EU will coexist, conduct business, and interact. While the UK was a member of the EU, businesses were not required to pay taxes when trading goods over EU borders, and there were no restrictions on the volume of commodities that may be exchanged. Now that it’s no longer in the EU, the UK is free to set its own trade policy and can negotiate deals with other countries. Also, the UK gets to control their own fishing and make their own laws without having to consult other countries. This was a major victory for Mr. Johnson, and he gained much support. While all of this was going on, the COVID-19 pandemic was raging on. Originally, the severity of it was downplayed by the British government, but then the first case was reported in February. The first reported death in the UK was in early March of 2020. Boris Johnson addressed the United Kingdom on March 23rd of 2020 saying “…I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home.” “You should not be meeting friends…You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home.”He even said “You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can.” Lockdown was strictly enforced and citizens of the UK were stuck in their homes for a very long time. If they were even outside for too long, citizens were fined. In April of 2021, while strict lockdowns were still in place, Sue Gray, a senior government official, published a report on government officials breaking COVID restrictions. On the eve of Prince Philip’s burial, on September 19th, when socializing was strictly forbidden, Boris Johnson and several other high up officials had a party. Johnson became the first British premier ever to be found in violation of the law while in office when the London Metropolitan Police fined him for attending a party while lockdown restrictions were in place. The current prime minister, Mr. Sunak was also in attendance. The prime minister’s office initially denied there were any gatherings, then said he didn’t know about them, and finally claimed he attended them because he thought they were work functions. In early July of 2022, members of Boris Johnson’s cabinet began resigning due to yet another scandal. A powerful friend of Boris Jonson, Chris Pincher, became engulfed in misconduct allegations. It became known that in 2019 Mr. Pincher was accused of inappropriate conduct, and even though Mr. Johnson was aware of this, he still promoted Pincher. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, declared he could not proceed “with good faith.” Rishi Sunak, the minister of finance, also then announced his resignation, claiming that “rightfully, people expect government to be done correctly, competently, and sincerely.” Johnson’s leadership  lost the backing of numerous members of his party, and several other officials resigned. Eventually, after much backlash, Boris Johnson resigned on July 7th.

Liz Truss was elected as Prime Minister by the Conservative Party on September 6th. She struggled in her time in office, eventually stepping down on October 20th. The so-called mini-budget presented on September 23 by Truss’ finance minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, set off a period of unrest for the U.K. bond markets as they reacted negatively to the debt-financed tax cuts he proposed. This plan wreaked havoc on the British economy. 

So where does this leave the UK? Rishi Sunak was elected as the Prime Minister on October 25th. Mr. Sunak is the first prime minister to be a Hindu or a person of color. Mr. Sunak has worked in the UK government for about 7 years. He also has a background in the technology and hedge fund industries. He has an estimated net worth of around 800 million US dollars. He was raised in Southampton, England, where his parents managed a pharmacy. He attended Winchester College, one of the most prestigious schools in the country. Before entering Parliament in 2015 and taking office as chancellor of the Exchequer at age 39 in 2020, he earned his own money as an investment banker at firms like Goldman Sachs after graduating from Stanford and Oxford. He was just recently sworn in, so not much has changed so far, but many people are optimistic about his leadership.

All in all, the past six years have been difficult for people all over the United Kingdom. They have had five prime ministers, most who either didn’t last long or installed policies with catastrophic effects. Inflation all over has soared and the country is divided on issues like immigration. Many hope the election of Rishi Sunak is the start of a new chapter for Great Britain.