Rishi Sunak steps down with grace

Wednesday 10th July 2024 08:13 EDT

Rishi Sunak, the first British Asian Prime Minister has bowed out of his role with a speech that reflected humility and integrity.

As the former leader stepped out of No. 10 Downing Street one last time, he took accountability for the Conservative Party’s loss and apologised to the nation. “I am sorry, I have given this job my all,” he said. “But you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change, and yours is the only judgement that matters. I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss,” he added.

His graciousness also reflected in his words for his successor at his. farewell speech at No 10. Welcoming Keir Starmer as the Prime Minister of the country, he said, “In this job, his successes will be all our successes, and I wish him and his family well.” He asked for the best of people’s understanding for the new leader as he took up the “most demanding of jobs in an increasingly unstable world.”

Sunak took responsibility for the entire 14 years of Conservative governance, despite having the shortest term. While he becomes the target of the nation and the Conservative Party itself for leading the party to a historic loss, it is the gaffes of Liz Truss and Boris Johnson that have significantly contributed to the party’s downfall. According to John Curtice, it was virtually impossible for the party to recover from the "party-gate" scandal and the Truss fiscal event.

“It's been a difficult few years,” Sunak told Asian Voice’s Managing Editor, Rupanjana Dutta, in an interview a few weeks ago when asked if the Conservative Party’s internal divisions and problems have affected his leadership and political career. He also admitted to have fallen short in certain areas like the NHS. He told Rupanjana, “I wish we'd made more progress on tackling NHS waiting lists. I come from an NHS family. I'm very committed to making sure the NHS is there for everyone when they need, and it has been a challenge recovering from Covid.”

One can have any opinion about the man, but one thing is clear, Rishi Sunak is more dignified than the entire Conservative Party criticising him for what is a collective responsibility. It is evident that this election was about voting out the Conservatives and had little to do with the leader himself. Sunak’s win in his constituency of Richmond and Northallerton proves this point.

Not only did Sunak get re-elected, but he also did so with a resounding majority. He won with 23,059 votes, while Labour’s Tom Wilson came in second with 10,874 votes, a large margin of almost 13,000 votes. No one can claim this victory was driven by his ethnicity, as Richmond is a predominantly white constituency.

In fact, very little of his short term was defined by his ethnicity. It’s significant that this aspect of his identity did not play much into his leadership, reflecting the increasingly multicultural aspect of British society. 

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