Rishi Sunak, the Indian-origin former UK Chancellor, has emerged as one of two candidates to succeed Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and UK Prime Minister. Boris Johnson, the scandal-ridden outgoing leader, resigned earlier this month, triggering a fight within the ruling Conservative Party to replace him.
Yesterday, Conservative Party MPs voted to send Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss through to the final stage of the party’s leadership contest. One of them will now be selected as the next Prime Minister by the 160,000-strong party membership in a ballot running from August 4 until early September.
Sunak was the parliamentary party’s favourite, winning 137 votes to Truss’s 113 among Tory MPs. But bookmakers placed the foreign secretary as the frontrunner, with early indications suggesting she is more popular with Tory members ahead of a summer of campaigning.
If Sunak is chosen the Prime Minister, the UK will become sixth country when a person of Indian descent will be holding the highest position.
A comprehensive list has been released by Indiaspora, a US-based non-profit organisation representing the community globally.
Here are some prominent names on the list:
- Antonio Costa, prime minister, Portugal
- Mohamed Irfaan, president, Guyana
- Pravind Jugnauth, prime minister, Mauritius
- Prithvirajsing Roopun, president, Mauritius
- Chandrikapersad Santokhi, president, Suriname
- Kamala Harris, vice president, United States
In Mauritius, nine heads of state, including Jugnauth and Roopun, have been of Indian-origin. Similarly, Suriname has seen five presidents from the community. Also, four heads of state in Guyana and three in Singapore were of Indian descent.
Apart from these countries, Trinidad & Tobago, Portugal, Malaysia, Fiji, Ireland and the Seychelles too have chosen an Indian-origin head of state.
Howeverr, current trends compiled by YouGov, a leading British international Internet-based market research and data analytics firm, seem to show that Truss would beat Sunak in a hypothetical head-to-head. According to the survey of 730 Conservative Party members, 62 per cent said that they would vote for Truss and 38 per cent opted for Sunak, excluding those who said they wouldn’t vote or did not know.
Whoever triumphs when the party vote is announced on September 5 will inherit some of the most difficult conditions in Britain in decades. Inflation is on course to hit 11 per cent annually, growth is stalling, industrial action is on the rise and the pound is near historic lows against the dollar.