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Business News/ News / World/  With both plaudits and derision, British media gives mixed response to PM Sunak
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With both plaudits and derision, British media gives mixed response to PM Sunak

The UK media on Tuesday welcomed Indian-origin British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak with both bouquets and brickbats. Some news outlets acknowledged his leadership as the ‘new dawn’ for the country, while others questioning the validity of his victory

British media welcomed the PM designate Rishi Sunak with both bouquets and brickbats. (AP)Premium
British media welcomed the PM designate Rishi Sunak with both bouquets and brickbats. (AP)

On Tuesday, the British media gave Indian-origin Prime Minister Rishi Sunak both plaudits and derision, with some news organisations hailing his leadership as the "new dawn" for the nation while others questioned the legitimacy of his election.

Sunak, 42, became the head of the Conservative Party on Monday, making it a very special Diwali for the former Chancellor of the Exchequer who became the youngest British Prime Minister in 210 years when he moved into 10 Downing Street.

Every major newspaper in the UK, which once colonised the majority of the world, featured him on the main page.

The Guardian published a picture of the 42-year-old Conservative Party leader receiving a hero’s welcome at the party's head office in London with a banner headline, “Unite or die - Sunak’s warning to Tory MPs."

The Guardian's report noted that Sunak "will become the third Conservative prime minister in under two months and the fifth in six years. He will also make history as the first Hindu to lead the country."

The Mail recorded Sunak's premiership as a mile stone event, its headline read, “A new dawn for Britain" with the sub-head: "Rishi Sunak becomes our youngest modern PM - and first with an Asian heritage".

Striking a similar ebullient note, The Sun summoned a comic universe reference to mark the event. It said, “The force is with you, Rishi" with the main image showing him holding a lightsaber.

But not all media sources approved of Sunak being the next prime minister of the UK.

The banner headline of The Mirror hurled a scathing attack on Sunak. Its headline asked “Our new (unelected) PM… Who voted for you?" Describing him as “twice as rich as the King", its main story said he will now "preside over brutal public spending cuts".

Scotland’s Daily Record was even more critical of Sunak with the headline “Death of democracy".

The total wealth of Sunak exceeds 700 million pounds. Sunak and his wife Akshata also own a home in Kensington, a neighbourhood in the heart of London, in addition to their estate in Yorkshire.

The couple's total wealth is believed to be GBP 730 million ($837 million), according to this year's "Sunday Times Rich List"; several media outlets have noted that this makes them richer than King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla.

The Financial Times focussed on the economic challenges that lie ahead for Sunak, a former investment banker-turned politician.

The “markets look forward to ‘dullness dividend’ in the wake of Truss turbulence", it said, quoting Tory MPs that they hope Sunak “will reassure markets and help hold down borrowing costs".

Sunak's caution to Tories that "Failure to heal rifts would 'finish' [the] party" was noted by The Times.

The Telegraph published, “PM aims to bring warring factions together for ‘one shot’ at ending economic crisis."

On 5 September, Sunak was defeated by fellow Conservative leader Liz Truss in the campaign for prime minister. After 45 days in power, Truss announced her resignation last Thursday in the wake of a revolt within her Cabinet over her economic plans.

Sunak is married to Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy. Sunak's parents, retired doctors Yashvir and Usha Sunak, are of Indian heritage and were immigrants from Kenya to the UK in the 1960s. The couple has two daughters. In Southampton, Sunak was born.

His grandparents were born in Gujranwala, which is now in the Punjab province of contemporary Pakistan, but they were British Indian natives.

The road ahead is anything but easy for the new leader, who faces the uphill task of rescuing an economy in turmoil and unifying a deeply divided Conservative Party. The new leader is the third premier in the span of just seven weeks, following Boris Johnson's partygate exit and Truss' mini-budget disaster.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Published: 25 Oct 2022, 09:57 PM IST
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