Rishi Sunak had a steady path to the top of political life but endured a turbulent time during the end of Boris Johnson’s time as PM (Picture: Getty/HM Treasury/PA/EPA)
A serial high-achiever, Rishi Sunak’s background marks out a politician who was always going to be back for another try at the top job.
Born in Southampton to parents of Punjabi descent who had come to the UK from east Africa, he embarked on a path travelled by the most privileged in society.
Sunak attended private school at Winchester College, becoming head boy, before obtaining a degree in politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford.
An indication of things to follow can be found in the help he gave his mother, Usha, with the books at the ‘tiny’ pharmacy she ran.
His father, Yashvir, worked in the NHS as a family doctor.
An MBA at Stanford University in California followed and it was here that the post-graduate student met his wife, Akshata Murty, the daughter of India’s sixth richest man.
Sunak’s early trajectory to Number 10 contains few surprises, the closest thing being his spells as a waiter at an Indian restaurant during Winchester’s summer holidays.
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It might sound like the CV of someone given a headstart in life courtesy of the airs and graces of a wealthy family.
Sunak, however, has said his parents ‘sacrificed a great deal’ to send him to elite schools and has traced his business success back to helping out his mum in the chemists.
He can also point to the way he has made his own fortunes in business life.
After Stanford, Sunak embarked on a successful business career, which included spells at Goldman Sachs and as a hedge fund manager.
Rishi Sunak has said watching his parents serving their local community as he grew up inspired him (Picture: Wikibio)
By the time he switched to politics in his early 30s, he was already independently wealthy.
In 2015, he was elected to the ultra-safe Tory seat in Richmond, North Yorkshire.
His key moments in political life include supporting Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and backing Boris Johnson as Theresa May was forced out following the vote.
Sunak, now 42, was rewarded with a rapid ascent up the ministerial ladder when Mr Johnson became prime minister in July 2019.
He was swiftly promoted to the Cabinet as treasury chief secretary before becoming the chancellor when Sajid Javid quit six months later.
Covid provided a stern test of Sunak’s ability to balance the books while responding to crisis.
He pumped out hundreds of billions in government cash, becoming the face of the furlough and eat out to help out schemes, as the economy was put on life support.
The chancellor’s ‘Dishi Rishi’ nickname, which he is said to have earned in the finance world, re-emerged during a short-lived honeymoon period at the Treasury.
Rishi Sunak speaking at a hustings event as part of 2022 first Conservative party leadership campaign (Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay)
Outside politics he lives in Kirby Sigston, Yorkshire, with his wife and their two daughters, Krishna and Akshata, and lists his past-times as keeping fit, cricket, football and movies.
But the amiable, squeaky-clean image wore off amid continued reports of clashes with Mr Johnson, and opposition from within Conservative ranks over rising taxes as he attempted to rebuild public finances.
Sunak’s early gloss was also eroded by the Partygate scandal, during which he received a fine for attending a gathering to mark Mr Johnson’s 56th birthday.
He again found himself in the spotlight for the wrong reasons when it emerged that his wife had ‘non dom’ status for tax purposes, an arrangement that has reportedly saved her millions of pounds over the past few years.
Rishi Sunak and Akshata Murthy married in 2009 (Picture: Getty Images)
Sunak’s growing rift with Mr Johnson resulted in the chancellor’s resignation in July and triggered a domino effect as other ministers also headed for the exit door.
Ultimately, his departure set a chain in motion which ended with an increasingly isolated prime minister standing down, with Mr Sunak joining the subsequent leadership race.
While eventual winner Liz Truss promised tax cuts, he stuck to his view that this would be irresponsible, dangerous and un-Conservative in a time of inflation.
Mr Sunak was painted as the epitome of fiscal orthodoxy and Ms Truss as the natural heir to Mr Johnson, a mantle that the Yorkshire MP would once have assumed.
His attempt to keep a steady hand on the tiller lost him support among MPs during the first leadership battle, but Ms Truss’s ill-fated ‘Trussonomics’ and the mini-Budget have made him appear far-sighted.
The latest leadership contest came after Ms Truss resigned in the fallout from the turmoil that followed her radical growth plans, which included the former prime minister sacking her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng.
Mr Johnson appeared to be an adversary capable of pulling in a significant share of support from Tory MPs before he pulled out of the race.
Mr Sunak was then left the frontrunner against the lone remaining challenger, Penny Mordaunt, in the process.
Ms Mourdaunt pulled out of the contest today, reportedly just shy of the 100 nominations from fellow MPs needed to enter the later rounds of the contest, making him the automatic choice for the leadership.
Rishi Sunak leaves his home in London on Monday as he closed in on the premiership (Picture: Reuters/Maja Smiejkowska)
The new PM has the distinctions of being the first prime minister of British-Asian descent and the youngest in modern political history.
But there will be little time to reflect on his personal achievements.
In a tweet this week, Mr Sunak said that the UK faces a ‘profound economic crisis’ but he wants to be the one to ‘fix’ the problems.
The new incumbent at No10 will need to address the escalating cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine and the highly volatile financial landscape.
Without a doubt, the sea of troubles facing the nation represents the challenge of the former shop worker’s life to date.
He has said: ‘From working in my mum’s tiny chemist shop to my experience building large businesses, I have seen first-hand how politicians should support free enterprise and innovation to ensure our future prosperity.’
As Britain experiences crises on multiple fronts, the former head boy who always aims high will need to be at the top of his game.
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Rishi Sunak had a privileged upbringing but made his own fortunes in business and politics.