LONDON:Rishi Sunak has had a meteoric rise to become Chancellor at the age of just 39.
And although he has taken the job at No11 thanks to the bombshell departure of Sajid Javid, few at Westminster doubted he would reach the top in the end.
When Mr Sunak was elected to represent the safe seat of Richmond at the 2015 election – succeeding Tory former leader Lord Hague – he was memorably dubbed the ‘Maharaja of the Dales’.
He is believed to be one of the richest members of Parliament, living with his family in a magnificent Georgian manor house in the small village of Kirby Sigston, just outside Northallerton in North Yorkshire.
A multi-millionaire in his own right thanks to his investment career, Mr Sunak is married to Akshata Murthy, whose father N.R. Narayana Murthy is India’s sixth-wealthiest man.
Self-made billionaire Murthy Sr is a household name in India after making his fortune through consulting giant Infosys.
Akshata herself runs fashion label Akshata Designs and is also a director of a venture capital firm founded by her father in 2010. Her shareholding in Infosys alone is estimated at £185million.
Mr Sunak is a solid media performer, repeatedly offered up by Downing Street for tricky interviews.
The staunch Brexiteer was promoted to Boris Johnson’s Cabinet after the dramatic reshuffle in July.
Until now he was Mr Javid’s deputy, with the title Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
The two of them seemed to develop something of a ‘bromance’. Only in December, Mr Sunak – a big Star Wars fan – tweeted about their outing to see The Rise of Skywalker.
Mr Sunak, who boarded at the £40,000-a-year Winchester College, was born in Southampton and describes his hobbies as ‘keeping fit, cricket, football and movies’.
A fan of Southampton FC, he described his childhood hero as footballer Matt Le Tissier.
A third-generation Indian immigrant, Mr Sunak’s father was an NHS GP and his mother ran a chemist’s.
After Oxford he studied at California’s Stanford University where he met Akshata.
The couple married in her home city of Bangalore in 2009 in a two-day ceremony attended by 1,000 guests.
After the couple returned to Britain, Sunak worked for a London hedge fund before setting up his own business, Theleme Partners, in 2010, with an initial fund of $700million.
Writing on his website, Mr Sunak said his business experience had taught him the importance of entrepreneurship.
‘From working in my mum’s tiny chemist shop to my experience building large businesses, I have seen first-hand how politicians should support free enterprise and innovation to ensure our future prosperity,’ he said.
While building the hedge fund he spent a couple of days doing voluntary work for the Conservatives. He then decided he would like to go into politics full-time.
He has also been a school governor, a board member of a large youth club and a volunteer in education programmes.
When Mr Sunak went canvassing for the first time his Richmond seat, which has a relatively small ethnic minority population, one sheep farmer reportedly said: ‘Nice to meet you. I see you’ve got a better sun tan than William Hague.’
He has previously spoken about how his Asian identity matters to him, telling the BBC: ‘I’m a first generation immigrant. My parents emigrated here, so you’ve got this generation of people who are born here, their parents were not born here, and they’ve come to this country to make a life.
‘In terms of cultural upbringing, I’d be at the temple at the weekend – I’m a Hindu – but I’d also be at the Saints game as well on a Saturday – you do everything, you do both.’
He said he had been ‘fortunate’ not to have to endure much racism when he was young, but said there was ‘one incident that sticks in my head’.
‘I was just out with my younger brother and younger sister, and I think, probably pretty young, I was probably a mid-teenager, and we were out at a fast food restaurant and I was just looking after them. There were people sitting nearby, it was the first time I’d experienced it, just saying some very unpleasant things. The ‘P’ word.’
He said he ‘couldn’t conceive’ of the incident happening in today’s Britain.