After losing his previous bid, Rishi Sunak is finally the prime minister of the United Kingdom. It was never really off the table, given the state of the country's economy and Liz Truss's disastrous start to her premiership. The latter eventually resigned last week.
As India and Indians around the world celebrated Diwali on 24 October, MP Penny Mordaunt – Sunak's only remaining rival in the race to succeed Truss – pulled out, making the Indian-origin former chancellor the next leader of the Conservative Party and the prime minister of the UK.
As prime minister, Sunak will have a mountain of challenges to deal with. The biggest one, of course, is the economy. There are, however, plenty of other issues that the country is facing from immigration to climate change to Russia. What are the policies that the new prime minister is expected to initiate with respect to these challenges?
Again, 'It's the Economy Stupid'
"I'd love to stand here and say that I'll cut taxes and it'll all be okay. But it won't, because there is a cost to these things. Costs of higher inflation, higher mortgage rates and eroded savings. This 'something for nothing' economics isn't conservative, it's socialism."
These words of Sunak would be haunting Truss and every Tory who supported her.
Truss's proposed changes and the reactions to her economic recovery package, led the British pound to crash, as the economy sped towards a recession. Sunak had already warned against this. His plans for taxes and the economy include
Reduction of the basic tax rate to 16 pence per pound from 20 pence (20 percent cut) by 2029
Income tax cut by 1 percent from 2024
Temporary VAT (value added tax) cut on domestic energy bills if price cap is more than £3,000
Increase corporation tax from 2023
A Hardline Stance on Immigration
Sunak has been supportive of the UK government's controversial Rwanda asylum policy, saying that he will do "whatever it takes to get our partnership with Rwanda off the ground."
Under the UK-Rwanda deal, people who arrive in the UK "illegally" will be taken straight to Rwanda, where they will be assessed for resettlement. In return, the UK has paid the Rwandan government £120 million to house the migrants and integrate them into Rwandan society. You can read more about the plan here.
The new prime minister also has 10-point plan for immigration. Some of these points include:
Tightening the definition of who qualifies for asylum in the UK
Creating a parliamentary cap on the number of refugees that the UK accepts
Strengthening immigration enforcement by increasing resources for more "raids and site visits"
"Holding the French to account," that is, increasing cooperation with France to stop small boats of immigrants crossing the border
On Russia and China
On Russia, Sunak has
Called on British firms to stop investing in Russia, and praised the decisions of energy companies like BP and Shell to pull out, along with the investment firms Aviva, M&G, and Vanguard, for doing the same
Promised to redouble British efforts to support Ukraine against Russia
Called on the G20 to ban Russian President Vladimir Putin from its summits until Moscow ends its aggression against Ukraine
These words, however, did not stop him from landing in trouble, given that his wife, Akshata Murthy, daughter of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, has been accused of collecting "bloody money" in dividends from a company (Infosys) that has refused to exit Russia after the attack on Ukraine.
On China, Sunak has called Beijing the "number one threat" to global and domestic security, and pledged a tougher stance against the country. He has
Called for the closure of 30 Confucius Institutes in Britain to prevent the "soft-power spread" of China through programmes on its culture and language
Accused the belt and road initiative of "saddling developing countries with insurmountable debt"
Claimed that China was "stealing our technology and infiltrating our universities," "propping up" Putin, buying Russian oil, and bullying neighbors, including Taiwan
Considered banning Chinese acquisitions of key British assets, especially in strategically sensitive technology companies
Called for tougher action against Chinese espionage and China's cyberspace program
The Northern Ireland Protocol
Sunak has been cautious in his approach towards the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is a special trading arrangement between the UK and Northern Ireland, which was signed with the European Union in 2019 and implemented at the start of 2021. Click here to understand what the protocol is.
He told Bloomberg in May that the way its operating at the moment was posing enormous challenges to "the stability of the situation" in Northern Ireland. While he too wants to ensure that Northern Ireland's place in the United Kingdom is secure, Sunak has expressed his concerns about the protocol in private.
At the end of 2021, for instance, the Daily Telegraph reported that Sunak urged the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his ex-chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost not to "blow up" talks with the EU about the protocol at a time when tensions were high.
With COP27 approaching, Sunak's climate policies will be much anticipated by observers and investors around the world. He supports the UK's net zero targets (the year 2050), and has even launched a Net Zero Innovation Portfolio worth a £1 billion to combat climate change.
The prime minister-elect has also confirmed the launch of a new support scheme so that retail investors can develop green savings bonds.
Catalysed by the supply shock caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Sunak has also said that he wants to make the UK energy independent by 2045, and will created a dedicated energy ministry for the same.
A strong Brexiteer, Sunak voted to leave the EU and has said that taking back control of lawmaking will give Britain a competitive economic edge.
In one of his campaign videos, he unveiled a plan to have a new Brexit delivery department that will review 2,400 EU laws on the British statute book. He wants to either do away with them completely or modify them in what he claims will be in the interest of the UK. The bill, moved by Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg, has already reached the House of Commons
In August, Sunak had promised to "keep Brexit safe."