Rethinking Europe

UK Tories and Rishi Sunak: Revenge for the Empire?

If and when Rishi Sunak becomes Britain’s next Prime Minister, Europe would see its first leader of Indian parents.

Takeaways


  • If Boris Johnson is ousted or simply quits as Britain’s Prime Minister, his successor may well be the first non-white person to lead a European country since the Moors were expelled from Spain in 1492.
  • Already Britain has more black or Asian politicians holding high office than the rest of Europe combined. Britain’s Finance, Interior, Education and Business ministers are all of black, Asian or Arab background.
  • One in five of all current British cabinet ministers is not white. The Labour opposition teams is full of shadow ministers from a black, Asian or other ethnic backgrounds as well.
  • Rishi Sunak’s wife, equipped with a personal fortune of €515 million based on her holding in her father's firm, is richer than the Queen of England.
  • Sunak is a Hindu not a Muslim. However, for most Brits it is the color of skin, not the religion that matters.
  • Through his father-in-law, India’s second richest businessman, Sunak is lined up with the Modi Hindu nationalists.
  • In the hunt for votes, Rishi Sunak would have to overcome the innate prejudice of many Brexit voters in the UK.
  • Rishi Sunak would be a Tory leader of unimaginable wealth, close to Hindu elites in India who, in turn, are loathed by millions of British Muslim voters.
  • A Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would be the revenge of the Empire on its English colonizers and masters who ran a deeply racist imperial wealth gathering operation.
  • A Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would be a snub for the anti-woke advocates of identity politics. They are always eager to defend “majority populations” in the best manner of white supremacists aligned with Donald Trump.

If Boris Johnson is ousted or simply quits as Britain’s Prime Minister, who takes over? Chances are that it will be the first non-white person to lead a European country since the Moors were expelled from Spain in 1492.

Colorful Britannia

Already Britain has more black or Asian politicians holding high office than the rest of Europe combined. Britain’s Finance, Interior, Education, Business ministers are all of black, Asian or Arab background.

In total, one in five of all current British cabinet ministers is not white. The Labour opposition teams is full of shadow ministers from a black, Asian or other ethnic backgrounds as well.

The continentals strike out

By contrast, the European Commission is run by what can be broadly categorized as white Christians. The continental political class has made only token efforts to allow true representation.

Few of Europe’s estimated 25 million Muslim citizens or the millions from former colonies in Africa or the Caribbean hold high political office.

Leo Varadkar, the son of an Indian doctor and Irish mother, leads Ireland’s Fine Gael party and was briefly Ireland’s Taoiseach.

Enter Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak is at the top of current Conservative Party membership polls to succeed Boris Johnson.

He is a 41-year-old British born son of Indian Hindu immigrants who came from East Africa where many Indian trade traders and administrators settled in the East African British colonies of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

It is not just that Sunak will be the first Indian-origin person to head a European government if Johnson falls, he is also an unusual candidate for leadership of the Conservative Party and thus Prime Minister.

Forget lowly Eton

He will be the first Tory Prime Minister who went to Winchester, the most elite and intellectually challenging of the famous British private schools.

Twenty UK Prime Ministers have emerged from Eton, including the current one and his predecessor, David Cameron, who took Britain out of Europe.

The boys from Winchester are reputed be intellectually much smarter than the boys from Eton. The latter tend to come from the rural aristocracy and are trained to take over the big land holdings of British nobility.

Or to go and fight (and formerly die) for Queen and Country in the army. Or run the Conservative Party in the interests of their own class.

Boys from Winchester are different

Boys from Winchester are different. The school’s motto is “Manners Maketh Man”, so they are known for their exquisite politeness and sheer brain power. It is boys from Winchester who run the civil service in effect the real holders of state power in Britain.

The Winchester boys are those who become Archbishops, bankers and heads of professional associations. They leave the grubby populism of politics to Old Etonians like Boris Johnson.

From the pharmacy to No. 10?

Sunak went to the elite school after growing up in Southampton, a non-descript southern English port city where his father was a doctor and his mother ran a pharmacy.

Moving from a childhood linked to a pharmacy would mean following in Margret Thatcher’s footsteps as her father run a local store.

His parents saved every penny to pay for the very expensive fees at Winchester. Sunak repaid their investment swiftly by emerging as the school’s head boy. This position requires both support from his fellow very smart students and, of course, the school’s teachers.

Sunak seems to get on well with everybody. He impresses anyone he meets with his sheer brain power and courtesy. He is not known to have an enemy in the Conservative Party (a rather unusual feat in that party).

He went from Oxford to do an MBA at Stanford, subsequently enrolled at Goldman Sachs and in 2010 moved on to work for New York hedge funds.

The richest politician in Europe

Sunak is probably the richest politician in Europe. Beyond the sums he accumulated in the investment world, this is largely due to his marriage. While at Stanford, he met his future wife Akshata Murthy. Her father is one of the richest men in India.

A wife richer than the Queen

Her personal fortune based on a €515 million holding in her father’s IT firm means she is richer than the Queen. This is high-end elite Tory politics with loads and loads of money.

This may present a problem for Sunak insofar as he is quite removed from most people’s everyday concerns.

He has not any experience of what it is like to have to worry about a mortgage or paying for children’s dental bills or schooling or the weekly rising bills for heating or family holidays is his wealth is beyond the imagination of most MPs, let alone most voters.

A swift rise

This has not mattered in his swift rise to prominence, leap-frogging over many talented Tory politicians with years more political experience since he entered the Commons in 2015.

He correctly spotted that Boris Johnson was the coming man and wrote fawning articles praising Johnson. He toed the rightist populist anti-European line that won Johnson the premiership.

Obedient yes man for his boss Boris J.

Johnson gave him the Number 2 job in the UK government, the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sunak has been an obedient yes man for his boss.

He has not initiated any important new policy, while conforming to the norm in all major OECD countries to pay furloughed staff laid off because of the pandemic.

He has also run up giant deficits in order to buy the necessary vaccines and to keep government spending high to offset the loss of economic activity.

Juicing up the pub crowd

Thanks to COVID, he also did one quirky thing – paying a billion euros to restaurant and pub owners in the summer of 2020. The purpose was to enable them to offer half-price meals to try and entice customers back into their pubs and eating houses.

The scheme worked for a while, but at the same time led to a big increase in COVID cases as the Prime Minister refused to impose the wearing of masks and other precautionary measures like COVID passports in order to guarantee the safety of anyone going in for a coffee, a pint or a meal.

Burnishing his conservative credentials

At the same time, Rishi Sunak has managed to play up his conservative credentials as he claims to be a follower of the Margaret Thatcher doctrine.

He is a fan of cutting public expenditure, no deficit funded expenditure and making the poor pay with reduced household incomes. All that to ensure that the better off and middle classes don’t face any tax increases.

Rich people politics

Britain now has more food banks, where poor people go to get free food than it has McDonalds. Sunak has also announced a cut in the key welfare benefit paid to the poorest of British citizens, including the unemployed or those living with disabilities.

He also is proposing a hike in social security tax that will cut in April income of most middle-class workers by 10%. Predictably, this has been welcomed by the denizens of the City but is proving unpopular with those who don’t have his kind of personal wealth.

Sunak and Tory racism

The Tories remain a party impregnated with racism. A Muslim woman minister has just caused a furor by claiming Mr. Johnson had her fired as a minister in 2020 because of her “Muslimness.”

Muslim Tories have long insisted on the Islamophobe prejudices of rank and file white Tories. They relish in citing Johnson’s many Islamophobe “jokey” remarks like describing Muslim women wearing the full head and body covering burka as “letter-boxes” or describing young African children as ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles.’

A Hindu not a Muslim

Sunak is a Hindu not a Muslim. However, for most Brits it is the color of skin not the religion that matters.

There are 4.3 million British Muslims, mainly from Pakistan and Kashmir. Their media, both locally printed papers and radio stations in the UK as well as satellite and on-line TV from Pakistan, reports daily on the anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmir ideology of India’s Hindu supremacist leader Narendra Modi.

Family linkage to Modi in India

Through his father-in-law, India’s second richest businessman, Sunak is lined up with the Modi Hindu nationalists

In the hunt for votes at the next election, Sunak would have to overcome the innate prejudice of many Brexit voters. Those white “lumpen” xenophobes take their same view on race and color as the rednecks in the US worshipping Donald Trump.

Ethnic politics at home?

The Muslim-Hindu divide in India or the deep hatred of nearly all British Pakistanis, especially those from Kashmir, for Modi’s Hindu supremacist nationalism has not so far played any part in British politics.

To date, UK politics is not as ethnically charged as U.S. communal politics, where the Irish, Jewish or Latino vote are actively and explicitly courted by politicians.

Not an easy proposition

But a Tory leader of unimaginable wealth, close to Hindu elites in India who, in turn, are loathed by millions of British Muslim voters may stir passions that can cost local Tory candidates their seats.

The process of electing a replacement for Johnson if or when he goes is simple. Tory MPs chose two of their number who go forward to be voted upon by 130,000 Tory rank and file party members.

Can he pass the party muster?

The Tory Party’s members have an average age of 70 years and are soaked in nostalgia for an England which won World War 2 and sent white settlers to colonize the black and brown peoples of the world.

They were happy to see a royal prince, Harry, exiled to California as his African-American bride was made to feel uncomfortable by the very white Royal family.

Revenge of the Empire on its English colonizers

At one level, a Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would be the revenge of the Empire on its English colonizers and masters who ran a deeply racist imperial wealth gathering operation.

On another level, it would also be a snub for the anti-woke advocates of identity politics who defend “majority populations” in the best manner of white supremacists aligned with Donald Trump. Sunak does not fit into that desired equation.

Conclusion: Time to run not quite right?

But Tory MPs may decide that the time is not quite right for a Prime Minister Sunak and keep him off the ballot going out to the Tory rank-and-file members.

Let’s remember that, after Brexit, British politics is being mired by race and identity.

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About Denis MacShane

Denis MacShane is a former UK Minister for Europe, a Contributing Editor at The Globalist -- and author of “Brexiternity: The Uncertain Fate of Britain”.

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