Weeks after falling short in the UK prime minister race, Indian-origin Conservative leader Rishi Sunak on Sunday announced a fresh bid for the job amid a crisis-like situation in the country.
“The United Kingdom is a great country but we face a profound economic crisis. That’s why I am standing to be Leader of the Conservative Party and your next Prime Minister. I want to fix our economy, unite our Party and deliver for our country,” Mr Sunak tweeted.
Britain’s ex-finance minister Mr Sunak, 42, is the second Tory MP to launch a bid for the prime minister’s office after cabinet member Penny Mordaunt declared her candidacy on Friday.
Mr Sunak already has the backing of 142 members of parliament while Ms Mordaunt has the support of 29. If the latter cannot earn the backing of 100 MPs, Mr Sunak would win the Tory leadership and by default, become the next UK PM.
Ahead of that possibility, here’s a look at some controversies that have marred Mr Sunak.
‘No Working Class Friends’
In a BBC documentary series called ‘Middle Classes: Their Rise and Sprawl’, a 21-year-old Mr Sunak talked about his friends. In the clipping from 2001, Mr Sunak said, “I have friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper-class, I have friends who are, you know, working class.”
“Well, not working class,” he quickly corrected himself.
Proclaiming to be a man of the people, this clip drew Mr Sunak backlash from across the country.
Wife’s Non-Domicile Status
Mr Sunak is married to Akshata Murty, the daughter of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy.
It was reported this year that Akshata Murty paid 30,000 pounds a year to maintain her non-domicile status, which made her not liable for the UK’s tax laws on foreign income. She had to give up her non-domicile status after public outrage.
Russian ‘Blood Money’
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr Sunak had urged British firms to stop investing in the country while praising companies like Shell and BP for pulling out.
Akshata Murty was, however, accused of collecting “blood money” in dividends from Infosys, which refused to stop operations in Russia.
“Every company has the choice to make, you can run the business as usual and make your money, but you have to live with the fact it’s bloody money, and bloody trade,” Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko had said, as quoted by The Guardian.
Mr Sunak on the BBC Breakfast show raised his concerns about the rising price of bread in the UK. When the presenter asked him what kind of bread did he prefer, Mr Sunak said, “It’s a Hovis kind of seeded thing. We have a whole range of different – we all have different breads in my house, a degree of healthiness between my wife, myself and my kids.”
Responding to the widely publicised clip, the shadow food secretary Jim McMahon said, “Maybe if the Chancellor was struggling to afford a single loaf of bread like so many families are, he would have offered support to families yesterday.
“Instead, it appears the ‘continental breakfast’ Chancellor doesn’t understand the Tory cost of living crisis he’s presiding over.”