Dr. Tahseen Mahmood Aslam talks about First brown UK PM
The First brown UK PM Western world is gradually accommodating the ethnic minorities that have settled there after the almost unending waves of migration that began after the end of the Second World War. The Western world had lost the flower of its generation in the horrendous war creating a space for manpower that provided opportunity to migrants to shift in large numbers to the European countries. It is widely known that, as compared to the United States, Europe is considered averse to absorb foreigners in their midst and the result is that it took a considerably long time for European systems to include the migrants into the mainstream. In this context, the United Kingdom has shown the way and their political system has now opened its ranks to possibly accommodate a member of ethnic minority to rise to the highest office of the state.
The ouster of Boris Johnson as the PM threw open the field to prospective candidates that witnessed the emergence of three brown candidates, Nadeem Zhahavi, Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak, with Rishi Sunak surprised many by becoming the frontrunner in the race. In all subsequent elimination ballots Rishi Sunak maintained his lead though his support gradually withered in the end but remained enough to sustain him as the man to beat. Southampton-born Rishi Sunak, whose Indian grandmother migrated to the UK from east Africa in the 1960s, pegged himself as a product of immigration as he hit home the message about compassion but also tougher action on illegal immigration.
Earlier Boris Johnson’s resignation threw up around 10 names as contenders for the key slot, though not all of them have said that they want the job. Half of these MPs and ministers were from ethnic minority backgrounds. In 2021, 14 per cent of the UK population was from a minority ethnic background. Following the 2019 general election, six cabinet members and 10 per cent of Members of the House of Commons were from ethnic minority backgrounds. The current situation is that former finance minister Rishi Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs banker who raised the tax burden towards the highest level since 1950s, and foreign secretary Liz Truss, a convert to Brexit, will battle it out to become Britain’s next prime minister after they won the final lawmaker vote, setting up the last stage of the contest to replace Boris Johnson. Sunak has led in all rounds of the voting among Conservative lawmakers, but it is Truss who seems to have gained the advantage so far among the 200,000 members of the governing party who will ultimately choose the winner.
Polls show Truss would beat Sunak in the party members’ contest, opening up the chance that Conservatives elect a leader who was not the most popular choice for lawmakers. Truss thanked some lawmakers outside parliament shortly after the votes were announced stating that as prime minister she would hit the ground running from day one, unite the party and govern in line with Conservative values. Rishi also thanked his supporters and has undertaken to deliver on his promises. The two finalists will now start weeks of hustings up and down the country before the party’s membership. Observers point out that this has been one of the most unpredictable contests to be the next Conservative leader in recent history as there is no clear favourite to run away with it.
The vitriol between the candidates also poses the question of how well any new leader will be able to govern, with Johnson still popular with many in the party and country, and the party increasingly split between its various factions. Rishi Sunak, who helped steer the economy through the pandemic, might not find a forgiving crowd among party members with many blaming him for triggering Johnson’s downfall with his resignation earlier this month. He has also faced criticism on everything from his record in government to his wife’s wealth. Born to Indian parents and married to the daughter of an Indian billionaire, Oxford and Stanford-educated Sunak became MP in 2015. Just five years later, he was Johnson’s chief financial minister.
Rishi Sunak was one of the first to quit the cabinet and was seen as a hot favourite for the slot of PM for months, with polls then showing the ex-chancellor had a better chance of challenging Keir Starmer’s Labour than Johnson. In 2021 Papers however at the time featured headline after headline about ‘Dishy Rishi’ and how he would be the ideal candidate for a Tory MP in the event that Johnson stepped down.The media’s darling, Sunak was even described by a commentator as the only choice as he was then untainted by scandal. Unfortunately for Rishi Sunak, the controversy over his wife’s tax affairs and a fine for breaching lockdown rules seriously dented his reputation. Truss might struggle at the hustings against Sunak, who is more relaxed in public appearances and she has admitted not to be the slickest presenter.With both candidates serving in senior jobs in Johnson’s government, they may also be limited in their ability to pitch themselves as a fresh start.
The race has so far focused on pledges, or non-pledges, to cut taxes, at a time when many parts of the state are struggling to function, along with defence spending, energy policy, Brexit and social issues such as transgender rights. Whoever triumphs when the result is announced on 5 September will inherit some of the most difficult conditions in Britain in decades. Inflation is on course to hit 11 per cent annually, growth is stalling, industrial action is on the rise and the pound is near historic lows against the dollar. Britain under Johnson, and aided by Truss, also took a hard line against Brussels in its post-Brexit negotiations around Northern Ireland, drawing legal action from the European Union and threatening future trade ties.
On the question of whether the UK is ready for its first ethnic minority PM many observers point out that the success of any candidate will not be determined by their ethnicities but by their policies and personalities. However, Rishi Sunak appears to be aware of the disadvantage of being from the ethnic minority and took aim at the “forces that be” of the Conservative Party that favour his opponent Liz Truss in the race as he branded himself as the “underdog” in the Tory leadership race. He went on to add that these forces want this to be a coronation for the other candidate but he thinks that members want a choice and they are prepared to listen.
The British Indian ex-minister did not elaborate on who these “forces” actually are but reiterated that he was not the favourite. He further said that he was talking generically, but obviously he has come into this contest in the underdog position.It was an indirect reference to pro-Johnson Cabinet ministers, such a Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Minister for Brexit Opportunities Jacob Rees-Mogg, who are leading a pro-Truss drive and have sought to undermine Rishi Sunak’s campaign. Other factors also point towards the strong challenge mounted by Penny Mourdant who dented Sunak’s support to begin with as he lost supporters far more than his opponents. TW