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Liz Truss becomes British PM narrowly defeats Indian origin, Rishi Sunak

Britain would have made history if Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and a British of Indian descent, had won. Ironically, it would have been in the same month when India overtook the UK to become the world's fifth largest economy.

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Truss aims to put foreign policy, Brexit, cultural wars, health and social care, immigration and home affairs, taxation and cost of living, climate change and renewable energy at the focal point of her policies. While Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), claimed that the Foreign Secretary risks the prospect of a protracted recession if she implements her promised tax cuts. Truss will now become Britain’s third female prime minister, following Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher. Due to her narrow victory, Truss might discover that, as UK’s prime minister, she must take a larger diversity of party viewpoints into account. In order to accomplish this, she might need to support Sunak’s suggestions for assisting Britons in overcoming their affordability crisis and adopt a more moderate stance toward tax cuts, particularly those that affect corporation tax. Truss may succumb to pressure to reconsider her decision, but it is still too early to make any firm conclusions just yet.

 

Britain would have made history if Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and a British of Indian descent, had won. Ironically, it would have been in the same month when India overtook the UK to become the world’s fifth largest economy. But that didn’t happen, and Liz Truss, former Foreign Secretary, won the Conservative Party leadership in her bid against Rishi Sunak. On September 5th, Liz Truss was declared the winner of the ballot of 172,000 Conservative members (generally over 55 years old and white men) to replace Boris Johnson as the Tory leader. However, Rishi Sunak was rejected not because he was brown or Indian but because Liz Truss was probably liked better; she offered hope and lower taxes, which Conservatives always like, versus the tightening of belts approach Sunak was saying he would implement. She won 81,326 votes on the members’ ballot, almost 21,000 more than Sunak, who garnered 60,399 votes. Her win with 57.4 percent of the members’ vote against Sunak’s 42.6 percent was less than Boris Johnson’s in 2019.

Read more: Liz Truss wins Conservative Party Leadership: ‘no Dogs and No Indians’

Today’s Britain is a far cry from what no doubt his parents’ generation must have faced when they arrived and Enoch Powell made his famous racist “rivers of blood speech in 1968”. Indeed, it has transformed hugely even from 1990, when Conservative Party MP Norman Tebbit lectured South Asians on who they should support on the cricket field (Britain). What a phenomenal social change in British society! What a turnaround from the days when ‘No Dogs and No Indians’ signs were seen in many places in the UK when Rishi Sunak’s parents immigrated from East Africa to Britain in the 1960s. For all the decrying of racism (and no doubt it still exists), the UK has seen many South Asians and other minorities in senior positions in Johnson’s cabinet alone: Rishi Sunak (Chancellor of Exchequer), Priti Patel (Home Secretary – Indian descent), Sajid Javed (Secretary of State for Health & Social Care and former Chancellor of Exchequer – Pakistani descent). BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) is the umbrella term for people of color in the United Kingdom; interestingly, under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, more than a fifth (21 percent) of the cabinet was BAME, compared to 11 percent of the country overall. This is only the Conservative Party at the national level. Similarly, the Labour Party has many South Asian and other ethnic minorities playing an important role in politics at the national and local levels.

In the United Kingdom, there are approximately 1.45 million Indians (2.3 percent), 1.17 million Pakistanis (1.9 percent), 0.451 million Bangladeshis (0.7 percent), and other Asians. South Asians have entered British politics with their hearts and minds and are determined to own British society and use politics to improve their lot and that of their communities. For the second generation who were born in the UK, their first allegiance is to the UK. They were born there. Their families all live there. They are very proud to be British, even if they identify as “British Asian,” “British Muslim,” “British Pakistani,” “British Indian,” and so on. For them, politics is not about what they can do for their specific ethnic communities but rather, like any other “Britisher,” about fighting for policies they believe in on the economy, foreign policy and others.

Read more: PM Boris Johnson set to leave his office

The class-ridden and racist UK of the 1960s has evolved to allow today’s Sajid Javids, Priti Patels, and Afzal Khans (Labour Party Shadow Immigration Minister), all coming from relatively humble homes, to find their role in senior positions in British politics. Pakistan, by comparison, is still stuck in a rut with its religio-social elitist politics where only the feudals, those that have money, can participate in politics and leadership can only be sought by the scions of dynasties. As a British-Pakistani, I am proud of what the UK has achieved so far (much more to do yet) but sad about how Pakistan has lost its way. People are the strength of any nation, and it’s a shame when a state forgets that!

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