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Downing Street’s new tenant: Who is Rishi Sunak and what are his plans for the United Kingdom? 

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

After a period of tumultuous changes in the British political scene, following the passing of Queen Elisabeth II, and Liz Truss’s 44 days-long stay in office, 10 Downing Street has a new tenant: Rishi Sunak. 

Appointed on the 25th of October, after meeting with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, Rishi Sunak became the first person of colour to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In his first official speech as Prime Minister, he expressed concerns for the British economy and announced his plans to focus on reinstalling economic stability. He is facing significant challenges in the face of inflation, major geopolitical conflicts in the East with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the fallout of Covid-19 as well as the decreasing trust in the government reaching 35% in 2022

“Trust is earned, and I will earn yours.” said Sunak during his first speech.

Prime Minister Sunak studied PPE at Oxford, Lincoln College, and continued his education with an MBA at Stanford University where he met his wife Akshata Murty. He has had experience working for banks like Goldman Sachs before being elected to the House of Commons in 2015. Some of his previous political stances included: supporting Brexit in the 2016 referendum, voting against measures that prevent climate change, raising the threshold at which people begin to pay income tax, generally voting against legislation that protects equality and human rights, reducing the rate of corporation tax and stronger enforcement of immigration rules. 

There have been debates about how Rishi Sunak’s ‘election’ impacts the democratic process considering he was appointed into office without making any speeches or communicating structured plans regarding policy. He has so far been very ambiguous about his plans for the country’s future. Although without much detail, he crafted a 10-point plan for his campaign over the summer of 2022 when he was running to replace Boris Johnson; that plan includes scrapping VAT on Energy Bills to help citizens throughout the winter, introducing a measure that would limit the misuse of the NHS and an added emphasis on education among others. The BBC reported that Rishi Sunak is now going to COP27 after previously considering missing the summit to focus on “pressing domestic issues.”

All that considered, a burning question that comes to mind is: how will Rishi Sunak’s platform affect women? Ever since entering the parliament, Minister Sunak has abstained from voting on most significant abortion-related legislation, however, he has expressed that tackling violence against women is of the utmost importance to him, categorising violence against women as a “national emergency.” An issue that is important for the Prime Minister to recognise is how women are disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis as they are “shock absorbers of poverty” according to the UK Women’s Budget Group. Considering the current economic situation, this puts women in an incredibly vulnerable position.

Overall it seems like only time will truly tell what Rishi Sunak has in store for the United Kingdom. The cloud of ambiguity will soon get dispelled as there are crucial and time-sensitive decisions to be made about the country’s future. The Prime Minister is facing quite a challenge as he is left to mitigate the fallout of multiple crises that the country has gone through these past few years on top of the extremely complicated political tensions consistently rising in Europe and a complex economic situation. 

Oliwia Piecuch

St. Andrews '26

I'm a first year student at the University of St Andrews studying Economics. I'm really passionate about writing and after spending 2 years in an all-girls school, I place a lot of emphasis on feminism and strive to create women-focused spaces in academia.