A former investment banker, trained in the best establishments in his country, who is no longer satisfied with his portfolio as Minister of Economy and Finance, betrays his mentor and launches an assault on the supreme magistracy. The similarities between the rise of Rishi Sunak and that of Emmanuel Macron are striking. Revealing, too, a new generation of leaders who learned their skills in high finance between Paris and London, Singapore and San Francisco. Before thinking about politics as one adds a line to an already eloquent CV.
Beyond a honorary course Modeled on that of the President of the French Republic, the story of Rishi Sunak has the appearance of ” british dream »a signed formula The Economist to put into perspective because the social origins of Sunak are not modest. Nevertheless, the singular journey of the former Chancellor of the Exchequer represents a force in the campaign which pits him against Liz Truss, his former Foreign Affairs colleague in government.
Favorite announced then shaken in the polls
The corridors of Westminster have long been buzzing with the name of Sunak as the announced successor of a Boris Johnson brought to his knees by the scandals. On July 2, the resounding resignation of Rishi Sunak in a letter made public dealt him the final blow. The man who has been an MP for 7 years has definitely adopted political customs, which are sometimes cynical but essential to anyone who wants to follow in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair.
It was in Southampton, a port city in the South of England, that the eldest of three siblings grew up, raised in a family of doctors of Indian origin who arrived in Great Britain in the 1960s. When he was not studying at so british boarding school at Winchester College, an establishment where many British prime ministers and politicians have passed, the young man works in the pharmacy of his pharmacist mother. He keeps accounts there.
His ease with numbers and business is confirmed at Oxford. Then in the American bank Goldman Sachs where he worked as an analyst for three years before flying to Stanford University in the United States. On the benches of the best Californian faculty, the Briton is following an MBA (Master in Business Administration), an ideal diploma to open the doors of the globalized economic elite, to expand his professional … and personal network. In San Francisco, Sunak strikes up an idyll with his future wife Akshata Murty, heiress to a great Indian fortune. Her father founded the computer giant Infosys in which she owns shares valued at 430 million pounds.
Wealthy by his success (and his marriage)
On his return to the banks of the Thames, a hedge fund hired him, he trained there and set up his own hedge funds. Wealthy by his success (and his marriage) at 35, the golden boy maybe feels like he’s been around the City. The time has come to take an interest in the life of the city.
In politics, his first feat of arms is not long in coming. Parachuted into Yorkshire in 2015, he was elected MP for a deindustrialized constituency in the North. He becomes one of the youngest, and the richest, member of the House of Commons.
Like the Parliament, the United Kingdom is torn at this precise moment around the 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union. the ” Maharaja of Yorkshire », a half-pompous, half-ironic title given to him by the British press, then took up the cause of Brexit. A clear position, validated by the victorious referendum of the Brexiteerswhich still makes its popularity today when its competitor Liz Truss had supported the maintenance in the EU.
Re-elected in 2017, his political flight continued from cabinet to undersecretary under Theresa May. Until being appointed Minister of Finance after Boris Johnson’s triumph in the 2019 legislative elections. Very exposed, the position is a springboard to 10 Downing Street. His next step on a golden route?
Far from being blamed for him, as still happens to Emmanuel Macron in France, Rishi Sunak’s experience in the City serves his credibility vis-à-vis voters tories. The ballot, held from August 5 to September 5, must decide the identity of the future prime minister, with the Conservatives having the majority in Parliament until the next general election in spring 2024.
His journey: a force to overcome three handicaps
“Sunak’s professional background gives him great legitimacy in the management of economic files. Having been an investment banker is seen as an asset in Great Britain. We qualify it of “man from Davos”. In the mouth of the British, it sounds like a compliment. As a financier, he has the image of a pragmatic, serious and coherent man. This image is reinforced by its track record of Minister of Finance judged positive during the pandemic where it set up the compensation schemes for employees and companies ”, relates to The gallery Sophie Loussouarn, academic specialist in the United Kingdom.
During the pandemic, Sunak has stood out as a proponent of the lightest restrictions possible, keen not to stifle growth. If his economic competence is proven, will it be enough to win against Liz Truss? The two finalists of the conservative primary clash mainly on their economic and especially fiscal programs, burning questions among the 170,000 members of the Party Tory called to vote.
Here, it is hardly a question of convincing all the British people but the 170,000 members of the Conservative Party. A militant base “essentially male, wealthy, elderly and settled mainly in the south of the country” according to the historian of Great Britain Sophie Loussouarn who points out the delay of the forties in the polls on Liz Truss. That she doesn’t find insurmountable.
“Sunak has three handicaps: He wishes increase taxes in the‘immediate as her rival Liz Truss s‘committed to lowering them, he is perceived as a traitor following his resignation on July 5 from the government of Boris Johnson that‘he accused of missing‘integrity, finally his wife Akshata Narayan Murty enjoys‘a status of non-resident for tax purposes in the United Kingdom, as‘shareholder ofInfosys, I‘Indian multinational company created by his father », notes the professor at the Jules-Verne University of Amiens.
” Common Sense Thatcherism »
It was in Grantham, Thatcher’s birthplace, that he made his first campaign trip in July. The Iron Lady remains a revered political figure in the Conservative pantheon. However, the brutality of the social cuts it imposed still partly explain the shortcomings of the NHS (national hospital system). The pandemic has brought them to light. A stain on his political heritage in the eyes of some Britons.
More measured and consensual, Sunak advocates an abstruse ” common sense Thatcherism ». Understand: a pragmatic liberalism that does not break public services while focusing on balancing public accounts. The fact of summoning the name of Margaret Thatcher is also due to the economic situation, similar to that of the early 1980s with inflation above 10% (9.4% over one year at present) that was managed to stem the first woman to take on the responsibilities of Prime Minister.
” Our number one priority is to fight inflation and not make it worse », Rishi Sunak told the BBC. Which was still slow to take action against rising prices, before resolving to release tens of billions of pounds in household aid under the pressure of strikes. Aware, however, of the slate left by this emergency plan, Sunak is opposed to a short-term tax cut, preferring the promise of a serious budget even if he has shown himself open to a reduction in the VAT on energy. An increase in other taxes is also not excluded if he takes the reins of the United Kingdom.
Lower inflation to lower taxes
His program: control inflation and then lower taxes. “The former Minister of Finance wants to wait until the peak of inflation forecast for late summer-early fall is over to provide fiscal stimulus by cutting taxes », analyzes the chief economist of Euler Hermes Ana Boata. In contrast, Liz Truss castigates a policy which, according to her, would lead to ” recession » and offers an immediate tax reduction.
The former head of British diplomacy intends to stand out thanks to her international stature. At the head of Foreign Officethis other admirer of Margaret Thatcher, who allows herself to copy certain outfits from theIronLady, took martial positions on Taiwan, China and the invasion of Ukraine decided by Vladimir Putin.
More identified with the economy, Sunak is also trying to make his voice heard on geopolitical issues. ” China is the biggest long-term threat to the UK », proclaimed the one who undertakes to close the 30 Confucius institutes in the country suspected of pro-Chinese propaganda and espionage. An intractable posture in order to harden its smooth image, neat in the manner of its brush cut. Sunak knowingly built it via abundant communication on social networks.
On his Twitter profile scroll pictures of his family, of his childhood with strokes of humor or of his teleworking sessions in his living room in a hoodie. Involuntary nod to the photos published by the Elysée of an unshaven Emmanuel Macron wearing a sports jacket in a Sunday work session. Perhaps the two men will have the opportunity to meet at the table of the powerful in the weeks to come. This would mark for Sunak at only 42 years old the apogee of a political career as meteoric as was his success in business.