Europe: One more Goldman Sachs’ man in a critical post

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak (born 12 May 1980) is a British Conservative Party politician serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer since February 2020. Sunak earlier served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury under Sajid Javid from July 2019 to February 2020, and has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Richmond (Yorks) since the 2015 general election.

Born in Southampton, Hampshire to an Indian Punjabi family, his early education was at Winchester College. Sunak subsequently studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Lincoln College, Oxford, and later gained an MBA from Stanford University as a Fulbright Scholar. After graduating, Sunak worked for investment bank Goldman Sachs, and later as a partner at the hedge fund management firm The Children’s Investment Fund Management.

Early life and education

Sunak was born on 12 May 1980 in Southampton, Hampshire, to Yashvir and Usha Sunak. His grandparents were born in Punjab, India and emigrated from East Africa to the UK in the 1960s. His father Yashvir was a general practitioner, (GP), and his mother Usha was a pharmacist who ran a local pharmacy. He is the eldest of three siblings.

Sunak was privately educated at Winchester College, an all-boys’ boarding school, where he was head boy. He then studied PPE at Lincoln College, Oxford, graduating with a First in 2001. In 2006, Sunak obtained an MBA from Stanford University, where he was a Fulbright scholar.

Business career

Sunak worked as an analyst for investment bank Goldman Sachs between 2001 and 2004. He then worked for hedge fund management firm The Children’s Investment Fund Management, becoming a partner in September 2006. He left in November 2009 to join former colleagues at new hedge fund firm Theleme Partners, which launched in October 2010 with an initial $700 million. Sunak was also a director of investment firm Catamaran Ventures, owned by his father-in-law, Indian businessman N. R. Narayana Murthy.

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Political career

Member of Parliament

Sunak was selected as the Conservative candidate for Richmond (Yorks) in October 2014. The seat had previously been held by former leader of the party, Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, William Hague, who chose to stand down at the next general election. In the same year, Sunak was the head of centre-right think tank Policy Exchange‘s Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Research Unit, for which he co-wrote a report on BME communities in the UK. Sunak was elected as MP for the constituency in the 2015 general election with a majority of 19,550 (36.2%). During the 2015–2017 parliament, Sunak was a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.

He supported the UK leaving the European Union (EU) in the June 2016 membership referendum. In the same year, he wrote a report for the Thatcherite think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies, supporting the establishment of free ports post-Brexit, and the following year wrote a report advocating for the creation of a retail bond market for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Sunak was re-elected as MP in the 2017 general election, with an increased majority of 23,108 (40.5%). He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Local Government between January 2018 and July 2019. Sunak voted for then Prime Minister Theresa May‘s Brexit withdrawal agreement and voted against a referendum on any withdrawal agreement.[24] He supported Boris Johnson in the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election and co-wrote an article in The Times newspaper with fellow MPs Robert Jenrick, and Oliver Dowden to advocate for Johnson during the campaign in June.

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He was re-elected in the 2019 general election with an increased majority of 27,210 (47.2%). During the election campaign, Sunak represented the Conservatives in both the BBC‘s and ITV‘s seven-way election debates.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Sunak was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 24 July 2019 He became a member of the Privy Council the next day.

Chancellor of the Exchequer

Sunak was promoted to Chancellor of the Exchequer on 13 February 2020 as part of a cabinet reshuffle, after the resignation of his predecessor Sajid Javid on the same day. Javid had resigned after being asked by Prime Minister Johnson to dismiss his advisers.

Sunak’s first budget took place on 11 March 2020. This included an announcement of £30 billion of additional spending of which £12 billion was allocated for mitigation of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Shortly after, Sunak announced £330 billion in emergency support for businesses as well as a salary subsidy scheme for employees. This was the first time a British government had created such an employee retention scheme.

Personal life

Sunak married Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Indian billionaire and co-founder of Infosys, N. R. Narayana Murthy, in August 2009. They met while studying at Stanford University and have two daughters. He is a Hindu, and has taken his oath at the House of Commons on the Bhagavad Gita since 2017. Sunak was previously a governor of the East London Science School.