Who is Rishi Sunak, leader of the Conservative Party?

A straightforward biography of the man hoping to win the 2024 general election

Who is Rishi Sunak, leader of the Conservative Party?

No really, who is he?

Rishi Sunak (b. 1980) is the current Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party. After studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University, he completed an MBA in Stanford University in California. Sunak then worked at Goldman Sachs, the Children's Investment Fund and Theleme Partners before being elected MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire in 2015. 

Sunak’s first roles in Westminster were as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Housing MInister Dominic Raab (2017-18) and then as PPS to Chancellor Philip Hammon (2018-19). In the 2016 European Union referendum, he supported the Brexit campaign. He then became Chief Secretary to the Treasury before serving as Chancellor in 2020 under Boris Johnson.

He succeeded Liz Truss as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party in October 2022. 

Rwanda, restaurants and being really rich: what Sunak is known for 

Rwanda. One of Sunak’s five priorities is to ‘stop the boats’ and aims to lower net migration. He thus introduced a plan to deport asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to Rwanda. The Court of Appeal blocked the plan in June 2023, a decision which Sunak appealed, but which was upheld by the Supreme Court who ruled the scheme unlawful. The bill was passed in April 2024 after the House of Lords carried out significant scrutiny. This report estimates that the UK will pay a total of up to £150,874 per individual to the Rwandan government for processing and operational costs over five years. 

Eat Out to Help Out. During the first COVID-19 lockdown, Eat Out to Help Out aimed to counter the negative economic impact of the pandemic. By subsidising food and non-alcoholic drinks at hospitality venues, it encouraged people to go out and participate in hospitality. Whilst the scheme was largely popular at the time,it led to an increase of 8-17% in COVID-19 infections, according to this report

Smoking. If made into law, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill will effectively ban smoking in the UK. It will raise the age people can buy cigarettes by one year every year, stopping young people turning 15 this year from ever legally being able to buy tobacco and vapes. It would also mean shops that fail to deal with underage sales will be given £100 fines.

What does he want to do?

Sunak’s five pledges are as follows:

  1. Halve inflation

  2. Grow the economy

  3. Get debt falling

  4. Cut NHS waiting lists

  5. Stop the boats

If you want to find out what progress has been made on these pledges, read this interesting Institute for Government analysis.

Header Image Credit: Number 10 via Flickr

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