Indians look for Rishi Sunak’s ‘caste’ while Tories question if he is British enough

Even as Rishi Sunak, born and educated in England, emerged as the front runner to be the next UK PM, Indians took to Google to identify his caste while Tories fiercely debate if he is truly ‘British’

Rishi Sunak with wife Akshata Murthy
Rishi Sunak with wife Akshata Murthy

NH Web Desk

Desperate to avoid a fresh election, the Conservative Party in UK is scrambling to find a successor to Liz Truss, who resigned as Prime Minister after barely 45 days in office. Tory MPs who want to be her successor need to declare the intention with a minimum of 100 MPs backing him or her. The deadline to do so ends on Monday at 2 pm GMT (around 7 pm IST). 

If nobody steps up, the country will be heading to a fresh election. But if only one MP manages to get endorsements from 100 or more MPs, he or she will become the next PM. If there are more than one MP with endorsements of a minimum of 100 MPs (Tories have 357 MPs), the MPs will first vote before party members are called in to vote online. 

BBC reported that as many as 128 Tory MPs had openly backed Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who lost out earlier to Liz Truss. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the report added, had the public support of 53 MPs. Neither of them, however, has declared the intention to be the successor of Liz Truss. 

While Tories are looking to unite behind Rishi Sunak, it is not clear if Sunak is willing to sit on the hot seat amidst the prevailing uncertainties and the economy in a shambles. The next Prime Minister’s term can again be short and he will face a huge anti-incumbency in the next election. Why would he want to be the PM now, is a question being asked frequently. 

BBC also reported that Sunak and Boris Johnson met on Saturday but neither side disclosed what was discussed. A hugely unpopular Johnson, who was holidaying in the Dominican Republic in the Carribean when Truss resigned, was booed by British passengers as he hurriedly boarded the return flight, is clearly not the favourite as many of his erstwhile supporters among Tory MPs have publicly backed Sunak. But can Johnson earn the trust of Sunak and convince him of his support over the remainder of the term is the question being increasingly asked. 

There are sections of Tories who fiercely oppose a ‘brown’ man becoming Prime Minister. Sunak, they argue, is not British enough although he was born in Hampshire and educated and worked in England. He did give up his Green Card and US citizenship and his wife, daughter of Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy, registered in England to pay taxes after she was accused of evading paying taxes in UK. 

Indians, meanwhile, are googling to find out if Sunak is a Brahmin!      

To sum up,  

  • Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson remain the two frontrunners in the race, but neither the former chancellor nor the former prime minister have officially confirmed they are running

  • Johnson's supporters have claimed the former PM has the support of 100 Tory MPs. But Sunak's backers have cast doubt on those claims, demanding Johnson's camp to publish a list of MPs who are backing him

  • Those wishing to throw their names in the hat have until Monday at 14:00 BST to find 100 backers. The general public doesn't have a say on who will become the next Tory leader, but Conservative Party members will (unless MPs unite around just one candidate) 

  • Currently 203 out of 357 Tory MPs have gone public with their support

  • Some 128 MPs are backing Sunak, 53 MPs said they'll support Johnson and a further 23 MPs have pledged their support to Mordaunt. 

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