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In Pictures: Rishi Sunak’s rise to the top of UK politics

The former chancellor has emerged victorious just weeks after finishing runner-up to Liz Truss.

24 October 2022

Rishi Sunak’s rise to the top of UK politics comes just weeks after he appeared to have had his ambitions dashed in the leadership process that briefly propelled Liz Truss into Number 10 Downing Street.

Mr Sunak finished runner-up to Ms Truss in the ill-tempered contest to succeed Boris Johnson whose resignation had been in part prompted by the resignation of his former chancellor.

However, his predictions of markets turmoil in the event of a Truss victory proved accurate and now his party has given him the task of rallying its free-falling poll ratings.

Cabinet meeting
Newly installed chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak arrives for a first cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street (Aaron Chown/PA)

Born in Southampton, his parents were of Punjabi descent and their work in the health system gave him a grounding that would prove useful when the coronavirus crisis would strike.

His education at Winchester College, where he was head boy, and Oxford University followed and he took an MBA at Stanford University in California where he met his wife, Akshata Murty, the daughter of India’s sixth richest man.

Succeeding William Hague as MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire, he quickly rose through the ranks and became chief secretary to the Treasury under Boris Johnson.

He succeeded Sajid Javid at No 11 but it was a baptism of fire for Mr Sunak who was immediately tasked with the financial implications for business of the coronavirus crisis.

He regularly appeared at briefings as financial schemes were unveiled to keep companies afloat.

Cabinet reshuffle
Newly installed chancellor Rishi Sunak arrives at the Treasury in London (Aaron Chown/PA)

The then chancellor was a regular fixture at coronavirus press conferences (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/PA)
The then-chancellor was a regular fixture at coronavirus press conferences (Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak preparing the Economic Update in the Treasury in 2020 (Simon Walker/HM Treasury/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
Then chancellor Mr Sunak holding his ministerial ‘red box’ outside 11 Downing Street (Victoria Jones/PA)

Boris Johnson resignation
Mr Sunak, with then prime minister Boris Johnson, helped navigate businesses through the pandemic with various packages (Heathcliff O’Malley/The Daily Telegraph/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak pioneered among other projects the Eat Out To Help Out scheme (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

The then chancellor visiting Tachbrook Market in Westminster on the first day open-air markets reopened (Simon Walker/PA)
The then-chancellor visiting Tachbrook Market in Westminster on the first day open-air markets reopened (Simon Walker/PA)

As coronavirus receded, Mr Sunak joined Mr Johnson and others at the Cabinet table but revelations of a less-than-meticulous observation in Downing Street of the rules imposed on others soon prompted a flurry of scandals.

The financial status of Ms Murty came to the attention of the press during a difficult period for the family who eventually moved out of Number 11.

Mr Sunak did not escape unscathed from the scrutiny of lockdown socialising, including his appearance at a birthday event for his boss, but it was Mr Johnson who would eventually pay the biggest price.

His chancellor’s resignation amid further scandals helped eventually oust the former leader and few were surprised when Mr Sunak ran a slick campaign for the top job.

Royals attend British Asian Trust reception – London
The then-prince of Wales speaks to then-chancellor Mr Sunak and Akshata Murty as they attend a reception to celebrate the British Asian Trust at the British Museum, in London (Tristan Fewings/PA)

The Prince’s Trust visit
The-then prince of Wales, accompanied by Mr Sunak in Walworth, London, during a visit to a JD Sports store to meet young people supported by The Prince’s Trust (Paul Grover/Daily Telegraph/PA)

Downing Street partygate
(IMAGE REDACTED AT SOURCE) Mr Johnson (left) and Mr Sunak at a gathering in the Cabinet Room in 10 Downing Street on the PM’s birthday, which was released with the publication of Sue’s Gray report into Downing Street parties in Whitehall during the coronavirus lockdown (Sue Gray Report/Cabinet Office/PA)

Cabinet Meeting
A Cabinet meeting on July 5 2022 just before Mr Sunak quit as chancellor (Justin Tallis/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak speaking at the launch of his first failed campaign to be Conservative Party leader (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Sunak’s daughters also appeared on the campaign trial but, despite his warnings of economic doom, he finished a distant second to Ms Truss.

Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak during a visit to his family’s old business, Bassett Pharmacy, in Southampton, Hampshire (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak visited Grantham with daughters Krishna, Anushka and Akshata Murty (Danny Lawson/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak and Liz Truss during a hustings event at Wembley Arena, London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
A sombre-looking Mr Sunak leaves his house in London on the day his defeat to Liz Truss was confirmed (Victoria Jones/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
Tory leadership contenders Mr Sunak and Liz Truss before her victory was announced (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Sunak’s predictions of turbulence were vindicated and finally set in motion the events that have propelled him to Number 10.

Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak outside his home in London, following the resignation of Ms Truss (Beresford Hodge/PA)

Conservative leadership bid
Mr Sunak closes in on the top job (Beresford Hodge/PA)

Mr Johnson’s decision not to contest another leadership race and the late withdrawal of rival Penny Mordaunt ensured that it is Mr Sunak who will be invited to form a government by the King.

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