It seems life has come full circle for the United Kingdom. A country which ruled India and other parts of the world for more than 200 years is left with no other choice than to be ruled by a person of Indian origin. Celebrating it’s 75 years of freedom from the UK, India could not get a better gift on Diwali, when Rishi Sunak became the first Asian-origin Prime Minister of Britain. At 42, he is the youngest to take office in the last 200 years. Married to N R Narayana Murthy’s, Co-founder, Infosys Ltd., daughter Akshata Murthy, the couple have two daughters – Krishna, 11, and Anoushka, 9. Sunak takes over the reins at a time when the UK is facing one of its gravest economic and political crises in recent memory.
With celebrations gradually receding, Sunak knows he has an herculean task of rescuing the economy which is already in bad shape and was made irreversibly worse by his predecessor and ex-prime minister Liz Truss’s by introducing some disastrous overnight changes.
Delivering his first address from 10, Downing Street, he said, “Our country is facing a profound economic crisis. The aftermath of Covid still lingers. Putin’s war in Ukraine has destabilised energy markets and supply chains the world over. I will work day-in and day-out to deliver for you. Trust is earned and I will earn yours.” Soon after, the gilt market moved back to its previous levels before it was blown out of the water by Truss’s mini-budget that cut taxes for the rich. Sunak, however, highlighted the hurdles facing the economy, including the aftermath of Covid and the Russia-Ukraine war which has led to soaring energy prices. Truss tried to soften the energy price blow by giving huge householder subsidies that weighed down government finances. Jeremy Hunt, chancellor of the exchequer, tried to calm the market panic after Truss’s disastrous mini-budget, but was quick enough to make it clear to the public at large, that the promised subsidies were not indefinite.
Together we can achieve incredible things.
Now let’s get to work 👇 pic.twitter.com/yqzPR9Wzgq
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 28, 2022
Sunak’s immediate challenge would be to assure the people and markets about the inflation and the energy bill crisis. Currently, the inflation which is at decades-high of over 10%. Sunak has a tight rope to walk on as he plans to control inflation by tightening government spending and tax hike. The IMF has projected 0.3 per cent growth for the UK next year – making things more difficult for him. Furthermore, Russia’s attack on Ukraine and subsequent sanctions by the West on Moscow have disrupted the energy supply to Europe. In the UK, the annual energy prices per household have already soared three times to £3,549 from £1,277 since 2021. As the winter sets in, the rising energy demand to keep warm will further push the cost higher, making it even more difficult for Sunak in keeping the prices stable or downwards for households while staying conscious of the fiscal position.
Not only will he have to hold together a fractured and divided Conservative Party, he will also have to steer the country through an unprecedented economic crisis. Meeting both these challenges will be vital if Sunak wants to restore Britain’s credibility, which has taken a beating on the global stage. As of now Britain has to keep it’s fingers cross and believe Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law Narayana Murthy that Sunak will do his best for Britain as Prime Minister.