Liz Truss’ time in Downing Street was undoubtably chaotic and short-lived. Surely what the public needs now is a dedicated, understanding, capable Prime Minister to resolve the calamitous economic issues caused by the remarkable disorder of the Conservative Party. Instead, we got Rishi Sunak. Is the richest man in the House of Commons really who we need to see us through this winter of discontent?
Rishi Sunak’s voting history could provide an answer to that question. His votes on social issues are arguably rather telling of his character, as he has consistently voted against laws to promote equality and human rights - 7 times to be exact. In addition to this, he has never voted on equal gay rights nor allowing same sex marriage. His votes regarding environmental issues similarly suggest that Sunak, a man who voted 16 times against measures to prevent climate change, does not possess the values or morals necessary of a Prime Minister during this time of crisis. If he has consistently politically abstained before, will he continue to fail to act now?
Arguably, morality seems to have been at the bottom of the agenda for the Conservative Party in recent times. Whilst imposing higher taxes on the working-class people of the UK by raising National Insurance, Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murthy (whose net worth is estimated to be around £500 million) have repeatedly been accused of avoiding up to £20 million in taxes. Despite Murthy’s actions being legal due to her non-dom status (which means she’s not required to pay any tax to the UK on money made elsewhere in the world) is it ethical for someone from such a privileged family to be avoiding taxes, especially whilst her husband inflicts the highest tax burden on the UK in 70 years? Can Sunak really be considered to have high enough moral standards to run a struggling country when he apparently sees no issue in this?
Of course, with such wealth, the commonplace dilemma of relatability and understanding comes into play. Obviously, with an estimated wealth of £730 million, Rishi Sunak is detached from the prospect of a normal, working-class life in the UK. However, as part of his leadership campaign whilst running against Liz Truss, Sunak attempted to depict his childhood as one similar to that of many other descendants of immigrants, painting a humble picture of his family.
In reality, Sunak attended a prestigious private boarding school before going on to study at Oxford University - opportunities that continue to be less easily available for the majority of second or third generation immigrants due to the deep-rooted discrimination that is still prevalent within the establishment, compounded with extortionate education prices. Ahmed Twaij, a journalist for the political magazine Think noted how ‘Sunak managed to push through hundreds of millions of pounds of anti-immigration funds during his time as chancellor. He was part of a government that attempted to implement one of the most racist policies to date, the Nationality and Borders Bill. The legislation included a clause (since removed) that would have allowed the British government, in the name of national security, to revoke without warning the citizenship of anyone it deems has a claim to another nationality’. His apparent pride in his mother's status as an immigrant is similarly undermined by his contribution of hundreds of millions of pounds to anti-immigration funds and support of the inhumane Rwanda asylum plan; he once remarked that “anyone considering sneaking into Britain must know their journey will end in Kigali, not Kings Cross.” This seems to suggest his campaign video was made simply to appeal to minority groups in the UK - people he, as a general oversimplification, is seen to represent as the first Asian Prime Minister of the UK.
Only time will tell whether Rishi Sunak acting as PM will negatively impact the UK, however the promises he and the Conservative Party make are not always reflective of their actions. The doubt that permeates his career could suggest we’re in for a bumpy ride: one that will shape the UK’s uncertain future as much as its present.