The unprecedented diversity in the line-up of contenders to replace Boris Johnson as the Conservative Party leader and British Prime Minister has already made history with the inclusion of two Indian-origin frontrunners- former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Attorney General Suella Braverman.
Frontrunner former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Attorney General Suella Braverman, both 42, have much in common as UK-born Indian-origin politicians who campaigned for Brexit in the 2016 referendum.
Who is Rishi Sunak?
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak, on July 8, announced his bid to become the UK’s next Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party. He bagan his campaign with the release of a video on social media, where he was heard emphasizing on his connection to Indian lineage and that his “family is everything” to him.
"This young woman came to Britain where she managed to find a job, but it took her nearly a year to save enough money for her husband and children to follow her. One of those children was my mother aged 15,” says Sunak, in the video which has been viewed nearly 50,000 since its release last week.
“My mum studied hard to get the qualifications to become a pharmacist. She met my dad, an NHS [National Health Service] GP, and they settled in Southampton. Their story didn’t end there, but that is where my story began,” he says in the voiceover, alongside family pictures of his general practitioner father Yashvir and mother Usha with him as a young boy with his siblings.
Sunak is still topping the list of frontrunners for the much-coveted race for next prime minister of the United Kingdom. He reportedly has the highest number of MPs behind him.
The Tory MP said at his campaign launch."I am running a positive campaign focused on what my leadership can offer our party and our country,"
Sunak was born in the UK’s Southampton to Indian-origin parents. His father was a general practitioner for the National Health Service (NHS) while his mother ran a local pharmacy. His grandparents were born in Punjab and had migrated to East Africa, before moving to Britain in the 1960s where they reportedly worked administrative jobs.
The former Goldman Sachs banker who studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University before getting an MBA from Stanford University in the US, may have had an easy ride in the early years of his political career as a member of Parliament for Richmond in Yorkshire, but not so in the Cabinet.
His impressive resume includes working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and various hedge funds. In 2009 Sunak married Akshata Murty, the heir of Narayan Murthy, the billionaire owner of Infosys.
Who is Suella Braverman?
Goa-born Suella Braverman is currently serving as the Attorney General in the British Cabinet. Former barrister Suella Braverman belongs to the harder Brexit wing of the Tory party and wants a clear break from Europe, including taking the UK out of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
In her campaign video, she also references the personal history of her Mauritian mother and Goan-origin father who migrated to the UK from Kenya.
“They loved Britain. It gave them hope. It gave them security. This country gave them an opportunity. I think my approach to politics really informs my background,” says the MP for Fareham in southeast England.
Braverman is likely to get some support from her party's pro-Brexit faction. "I am putting myself forward because I believe the 2019 manifesto is suitable for this purpose and I want to fulfill the promises made in that manifesto," she said.
Braverman studied at Cambridge University and completed a master's degree in European and French law at Pantheon-Sorbonne University. She then went on to specialise in commercial litigation, judicial review, immigration and planning law at No5 Chambers in London.
Braverman entered politics in 2005, when she contested from the Leicester East constituency. She lost out to Labour candidate Keith Vaz but eventually selected as the Conservative candidate in Fareham and elected to the House of Commons as Fareham MP in 2015. She won by 56.1% of the vote and a majority of 22,262.
Since 2015, she served on the Education Select Committee, as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Treasury, and a Brexit Minister. In November 2018 she resigned from her role as Brexit Minister.
In February 13, 2020, Braverman was appointed as Attorney General for England and Wales and Advocate General for Northern Ireland, succeeding Geoffrey Cox. She is the second female Attorney General and the first Conservative female Attorney General.
The mother of two’s maternity leave famously brought about an overdue law change last year to allow her to remain a Cabinet minister while away to give birth. In a vote among the Tory membership by the Conservative Home website, she came in at fourth – just behind Sunak at third.
It would indicate that the nearly 200,000 Tories who will have the ultimate say by postal ballot on the choice of leader and PM between the final two candidates whittled down by MPs are ready to embrace the historic change that the leadership race has thrown up. Penny Mordaunt and Kemi Badenoch are placed at No. 1 and 2 respectively in that tally of Tory members.
Whatever the outcome of the race, the 2022 Tory leadership battle has etched its place in the history books as being among the most reflective of a diverse Britain.