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  • Writer's picturePARLIAMENT NEWS


A self-confessed "huge Star Wars fan" with a sizeable collection of lightsabers, he tweeted a photo of himself and his "Jedi Master" Mr Javid at a screening of The Rise of Skywalker in 2019. A few months later, the apprentice became the master when he replaced Mr Javid as chancellor, and was plunged into pandemic crisis planning and budgeting. For quite a few people, Mr Sunak appeared to be a reassuringly steady hand at the tiller as chancellor. When he pledged to do "whatever it takes" to help people through the pandemic in the spring of 2020 - and unveiled support worth £350bn - his personal poll ratings went through the roof. But the UK continued to be buffeted by stormy economic weather, and Mr Sunak himself had to deal with the fallout of being fined by police for breaking lockdown rules in Downing Street in June 2020. In July, he resigned from the cabinet, saying he felt his own approach to the economy was "fundamentally too different" to that of the PM, Boris Johnson.The move was instrumental in ousting Mr Johnson, which some of the former PM's allies will not have forgotten. Just 16 weeks later, he has become leader himself. His appointment as PM came on the day millions celebrated Diwali, and as a practising Hindu he has said one of his proudest career moments was lighting ceremonial diyas (oil lamps) outside 11 Downing Street while chancellor. A traditional Hindu red bracelet, meant for good luck and protection, could be seen on his wrist when he posed on the steps of 10 Downing Street for the first time as UK leader. There is no denying that Mr Sunak's wealth is a world away from that of most. Together, he and his wife Akshata Murty have an estimated worth of more than £700m - a sum which supersedes the personal wealth of King Charles III. Critics of Mr Sunak have raised the question of whether the millionaire can grasp the scale of the cost-of-living squeeze facing struggling households. In April, the finances of Mr Sunak and his family came under intense scrutiny, with the tax affairs of his wife - the daughter of Narayana Murthy, Indian billionaire and co-founder of IT services giant Infosys - placed in the spotlight. Headquartered in Bangalore, Infosys reported revenues of more than $11.8bn (£9bn) in 2019, $12.8bn in 2020, and $13.5bn in 2021. The company's latest annual report shows Ms Murty owns a 0.9% stake in Infosys. She announced in April she would start paying UK tax on this income to relieve political pressure on her husband. Mr Sunak's appointment as prime minister has made his own wealth and tax affairs a hot topic again. He has been tight-lipped about his personal wealth and maintains that he has never benefited from funds based in tax havens. It remains to be seen whether he and his family will split their time between Downing Street and the £4.5m five-bedroom townhouse in South Kensington, London where they currently reside. The Sunaks are understood to own a further three properties: a Grade II-listed manor house in the village of Kirby Sigston, near Northallerton, in his Richmond constituency, was bought for £1.5m in 2015. The couple also own a flat in South Kensington and a penthouse apartment with views of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California.

Mr Sunak won the approval of 202 Tory MPs to replace Liz Truss as prime minister. Newsnight's political editor Nick Watt says his colleagues find him "very personable", but also someone who is "very clear and certain in what he thinks". For example, in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum - in which he campaigned to Leave - he was called into Downing Street and asked for his support to remain in the EU but he refused. "He said 'No, I think Brexit is the right thing to do' - which is quite a thing for a newly elected MP to say to Downing Street." Mr Sunak told the Yorkshire Post he believed leaving the EU would make the UK "freer, fairer and more prosperous”. He said changing immigration rules was another key reason for his Leave vote: "I believe that appropriate immigration can benefit our country. But we must have control of our borders." Before entering politics Mr Sunak was an analyst for the investment bank Goldman Sachs and then worked for two multibillion dollar hedge funds. His supporters hope his eye for statistics and data will be an asset in making the right economic decisions. Mr Sunak's parents came to the UK from east Africa and are both of Indian origin. He was born in Southampton in 1980, where his father was a GP, and his mother ran her own pharmacy. "In terms of cultural upbringing, I'd be at the temple at the weekend - I'm a Hindu - but I'd also be at [Southampton Football Club] the Saints game as well on a Saturday - you do everything, you do both." In the interview he said he had been fortunate not to have endured a lot of racism growing up, but that there was one incident that had stayed with him. "I was just out with my younger brother and younger sister, and I think, probably pretty young, I was probably a mid-teenager, and we were out at a fast food restaurant and I was just looking after them.There were people sitting nearby, it was the first time I'd experienced it, just saying some very unpleasant things.The 'P' word. "And it stung. I still remember it. It seared in my memory. You can be insulted in many different ways." However, he said he "can't conceive of that happening today" in the UK. He attended the exclusive private school Winchester College and worked as a waiter at a Southampton curry house during his summer holidays. He has attracted criticism from Labour for donating more than £100,000 to his former school, to fund bursaries for children who could not afford to attend it. After finishing school he went on to Oxford to study philosophy, politics and economics, before studying for an MBA at Stanford University in California. There he met his wife, and the couple have two daughters. During the previous leadership campaign, he often mentioned his daughters in the context of climate change. Answering a question on climate change during a BBC TV debate, Mr Sunak said he took "advice from my two young daughters, who are the experts of this in my household".


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