Who is Rishi Sunak?
Brexit will swallow its fifth Prime Minister as Sunak, the hedge fund PM, fails.
- To use Churchill’s description of Russia in 1939, Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
- The curse of Brexit which has swallowed up four Prime Ministers in six years – Cameron, May, Johnson and Truss – has not been lifted. Brexit’s fifth Prime Minister victim will be Rishi Sunak.
- Some have compared Sunak to Obama, but Obama went from Harvard to work as a community organizer. Sunak left Oxford and headed for the fastest route to becoming very rich – the world of hedge funds.
- Sunak has said that London should be cryptocurrency capital of the world despite the growing evidence that crypto criminals are now a major threat to global financial stability.
- As Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sunak presided over the worst examples of corruption in recent British history.
- Rishi Sunak is the first British Asian to become Prime Minister and everyone except old guard racists has welcomed that.
Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is to use Churchill’s description of Russia in 1939 a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
While he offers up a perfectly straightforward biography, but on closer examination Britain does not really know its new prime minister.
A new Blair?
Sunak is young – at 42 he is a year younger than Tony Blair when he became Prime Minister back in 1997. Blair had already been an MP for 14 years – a top politician who had reformatted the Labour Party into so-called New Labour, silenced the militant left, and left behind Labour’s age-old hostility to Europe and primitive anti-Americanism.
Blair had also made endless speeches, written long articles and liked nothing more than appearing on television to explain his beliefs.
In contrast, Sunak dodges hard TV interviews, writes little and prefers soft podcast interviews where he can control the messaging.
The “hedge fund Prime Minister”
Some have compared Sunak to Barack Obama, but Obama went from Harvard Law school to work as a community organizer in Chicago. Sunak left Oxford and headed for the fastest route to becoming very rich – the world of hedge funds and global finance capitalism.
The hedge fund he worked for being owned by his father-in-law, the richest man in India and a close supporter of the authoritarian India strong-man Narendra Modi.
After studying in Oxford, he worked for Goldman Sachs, the globalizers’ bank which cultivates political contacts and buys up politicians like José Manuel Barroso, the Portuguese ex-Maoist who became a right-of-center prime minister of Portugal and then president of the European Commission.
Or Peter Sutherland, the first Irish European Commissioner who became president of the World Trade Organisation and later at Goldman Sachs, fulfilled the mandate of prioritizing open trade over workers’ and wider human rights, the environment or getting the rich to pay fair taxes.
The Goldman carve-out
Sunak has already paid back his friends at Goldman Sachs. There has been a big push by U.S. Democrats and the EU to impose a minimum global tax on global corporations that slide between countries doing their all to dodge tax obligations.
The 15% tax was a key step forward, but Sunak, as Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, ensured that the City’s financial services and banks like Goldman Sachs were not included.
Sunak has also said London should be crypto currency capital of world despite the growing evidence that crypto criminals are now a major threat to global financial stability.
Setting a precedent
Of course, Rishi Sunak is also the first British Asian to become prime minister and everyone except old guard racists has welcomed that.
When I began in politics, British Conservatives worshipped a racist Enoch Powell, with a huge Tory and white working class following. He called for the repatriation of immigrants from Asia, Africa (where Sunak’s parents and grandparents came from) and the Caribbean.
To win power in 1979, Margaret Thatcher told voters Britain was in danger of “being swamped” by Asian and other non-white immigrants. Now we have the first British Asian prime minister.
His new Home Secretary, the Interior Minister, is also an Indian immigrant whose family came from East Africa.
Opposed to Europe
Suella Braverman is obsessed with refugees who arrive in Britain without papers. She wants to deport them to Rwanda for processing. Like Sunak, she is opposed to re-connecting to Europe.
Key leaders around Sunak may not be white but they are hostile to foreigners if they are European and none of them show any sympathy for the poor of Britain of any skin color.
Brexit ideologues in London argue for a free trade deal with India to replace trade with Europe. The price Modi wants is visa-free travel to England for 1.4 billion Indians, but Sunak’s support base want to stop all immigration into the UK.
Sunak is a practising Hindu. He does not eat meat, nor drink alcohol. His father-in-law Narayan Murthy is the founder of Infosys and a close associate of India’s Hindu nationalist prime minister Modi. Modi promotes the Hindutva ideology which believes in the supremacy of Hindus over other communities in India – notably Muslim Indians.
Intra-Asian community clashes
There have been nasty communalist clashes in Britain’s largest Asian population city, Leicester, between British Indian origin Hindus and Kashmiri origin British Muslims.
Tories have associated themselves with Hindus, but if communal violence between Hindutva and Islamist ideologies takes off where will Sunak stand?
Manners maketh man?
Sunak went to England’s most exclusive private school, Winchester, whose motto since it was funded centuries ago is “Manners Maketh Man.”
In contrast to bombastic Old Etonians like Boris Johnson, Sunak is polite – though he can be very shouty if working up a Tory audience with denunciations of immigrants or the European Union.
Also, this summer, as Sunak was campaigning to replace Johnson, he was secretly filmed talking to Tory activists in a well-off district in southern England boasting about how he had transferred government funds earmarked for poorer communities in the North of England to Tory voting districts in the much richer south.
Tories and corruption
As Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, he presided over the worst examples of corruption in recent British history.
Transparency International has identified £3.7 billion in contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic awarded to recently formed companies – many of them set up by donors to the Tory party or friends of Tory MPs.
But as with all Goldman Sachs-trained bankers, Sunak believes in austerity. He is a continuation of Boris Johnson who believes in cutting public investment and public support for health and poorer areas, while protecting the better off.
He would impose an IMF-style austerity cure on Britain, but without taking a begging bowl to the IMF in Washington.
Aiming for Tory unity
He will continue the Johnson policy of isolation from Europe — even as opinion polls show a clear majority of Britons who think the 2016 decision was wrong. Businesses, scientists, scholars and musicians protested openly that being cut off from Europe is very damaging.
Sunak’s priority is Tory party unity, not a wider national interest. As “Sunak economics” bites he may get cheers from Goldman Sachs and hedge funds, but voters frightened of cost-of-living hikes, a tripling of house or apartment loan repayments and 2-year waits for operations including cancer treatment may soon fall out of love with the prime minister.
The Tory Party watcher and political analyst James Blagden writes in The Times that “The top traits that voters associate with the Conservative Party are untrustworthiness, dishonesty and self-interest.”
Less than trustworthy
Sunak’s politics have been less than honest or trustworthy. He stabbed Boris Johnson in the back by resigning as Chancellor in the summer, thus forcing Johnson to stand down. At the same time, Sunak was preparing his own campaign material to run in Johnson’s place.
Tory Party members rejected him as prime minister in preference for Liz Truss. Now the party membership had been denied a vote on Sunak a second time. That does not bode well for the unity of the Tory Party under Sunak’s banker leadership.
The curse of Brexit which has swallowed up four prime ministers in six years – David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss – has not been lifted. Brexit’s fifth prime minister victim will be Rishi Sunak.