In an unexpected move, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid resigned yesterday, after being asked to fire his own special advisers by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Javid was replaced by his former second-in-command Rishi Sunak, a relatively new entity in British politics.
Sunak — who campaigned in favor of Brexit ahead of the 2016 referendum — was elected to parliament in 2015. He inherits Javid's office just four weeks before the announcement of the UK government's latest budget.
The 39-year-old finds himself at the helm of Britain's treasury as Britain works out its future relations with the European Union. After taking over the position yesterday, Sunak told reporters that he was "delighted to be appointed, lots to get on with, thanks very much."
Rishi Sunak is the son of a doctor and pharmacist of Indian origin, who migrated to the UK via Africa. He was born in Southampton, Hampshire, and received private education at Winchester, one of Britain's top boarding schools. An alumnus of Oxford University and Stanford University, he worked for Goldman Sachs before entering politics.
Sunak is married to Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Narayana Murthy, who is an Indian billionaire and the co-founder of IT services company, Infosys. The couple have two daughters.
Sunak is seen as a Johnson loyalist who has risen quickly through the ranks. His last appointment was as chief secretary to the treasury.
As a Hindu, Sunak took his oath to be a member of paliament on the Bhagavad Gita — a holy scripture in the religion. In an earlier interview, he had said he was also a devotee of Southampton FC soccer club. "In terms of cultural upbringing, I'd be at the temple at the weekend — I'm a Hindu — but I'd also be at the Saints game (Southampton) as well on a Saturday. You do everything, you do both."
One of the biggest challenges he is expected to face is to stabilize the economy in the aftermath of Brexit.
Sunak joins Priti Patel, who as Home Secretary is in charge of interior affairs of law and order within the UK, in two of Britain's four "Great Offices of State" — with Patel's paternal grandparents hailing from Gujarat. The other two top offices are those of prime minister and foreign minister.
Meanwhile, the Conservative lawmaker Suella Braverman, who traces her roots to the western Indian state of Goa, was also rewarded with a Cabinet place on Thursday. She becomes the government's top legal authority, taking the role of Attorney General from its previous incumbent Geoffrey Cox.
tg/rc (AFP, Reuters)