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Celebrating Rishi Sunak

This micro-column was written by an outside contributor. It was first published in Flagship, our daily newsletter that distills what’s happening in the world into a concise, insightful morning read.

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Title iconThe Author

Sunny Hundal is a British journalist. He can be found at @sunny_hundal.

Title iconThe Micro-column

Rishi Sunak’s coronation as the UK’s first non-white and first Hindu Prime Minister is a watershed moment — one which cements Britain as a nation that welcomes racial, religious, and gender diversity as a strength. So why aren’t more progressives celebrating it?

The basic answer seems to be that because Sunak went to a private school, because he is extraordinarily wealthy, because he is right-wing, many on the British left find it hard to get excited.

As a Labour-supporting, left-wing British South Asian, I reject that impulse — and embrace Sunak’s rise, even though I don’t agree with him on most of his policies. Conservative-minded minorities always have and always will exist. It was only in 2010 that Labour elected its first Muslim woman MP, and the Conservatives their first Black and first South Asian women MPs. In fact, I want to see more Conservatives like Sunak, and more Conservatives embrace diversity and multiculturalism: it’s good for them, and for our society.

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It’s also an idea that many governments abhor, not least in Sunak’s country of origin, where Narendra Modi’s BJP wants to remake India as a nation run by, and for, Hindus.

The fact that a non-white man, who lit Diwali lamps at Downing Street and took an oath on Hindu scriptures, can lead the Conservative Party is undeniably steeped in symbolism. I suspect most British Asians will recognize the significance without bringing themselves to vote for the Conservatives at the next election.

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