Where was Rishi Sunak educated? From Winchester College to Oxford

New PM attended prestigious Stroud School, Winchester College and Oxford

Joe Sommerlad
Tuesday 25 October 2022 11:58 BST
Rishi Sunak becomes UK’s third prime minister this year

Rishi Sunak is the UK’s new prime minister after securing the support of the vast majority of the Conservative parliamentary party to be named their new leader, seeing off a challenge from Commons leader Penny Mordaunt.

Mr Sunak is a familiar face after serving as Boris Johnson’s chancellor throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, when he led the £69bn furlough scheme to keep people in work and the (perhaps unwise) Eat Out to Help Out campaign to encourage economic growth.

He was also criticised during that time after being caught up in the “Partygate” furore, for which he received a fixed-penalty notice, over revelations about his wealthy family’s tax strategies and for his unpopular Spring Statement earlier this year, which was felt not to go far enough in shielding the public from a worsening cost of living crisis.

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Mr Sunak has also not been forgiven by many Tories for “turning” on Mr Johnson, along with health secretary Sajid Javid, when the pair resigned in early July over the Chris Pincher scandal, which sparked the deluge that eventually led to the departures of more than 60 ministers and ultimately forced the PM out of office.

That sentiment is thought to have been behind his defeat in this summer’s drawn-out leadership contest to replace Mr Johnson, which was ultimately won by Liz Truss.

More positively for Mr Sunak, the disastrous nature of her six-week premiership proved his every criticism of her “fairy tale” economic policies to be entirely right, lending him the legitimacy needed to win favour at the second time of asking and, hopefully, appease the global financial markets that so lost faith in Britain under Ms Truss.

But how much do we know about the background of Britain’s new PM, the first Hindu to lead the country?

Mr Sunak was born in Southampton on 12 May 1980, his parents Yashvir and Usha Sunak a GP and pharmacist respectively, the couple originally from East Africa with roots in Punjab, India.

The eldest of three children, Mr Sunak attended the prestigious Stroud School in Hampshire, which was originally founded at Stroud House in Grayswood, Surrey, in 1926 before relocating to its present location between Romsey and Winchester in 1953 and which is recognised as one of the country’s top preparatory institutions.

As a teenager, he was enrolled at the even more exclusive public school Winchester College, founded by William of Wkyeham in 1382 for boys aged 13 to 18, where he was denied a scholarship but rose to be head boy and edited the school newspaper, The Wykehamist, in which he ran articles attacking Tony Blair’s New Labour government.

The school is thought to be the oldest continuously running in Britain, was conceived as a feeder institution to Oxford University and continues to teach its scholars in the inspiring medieval surroundings in which it was opened.

Its students are known for their cod-Victorian public school slang (bicycles are “bogles” etc)  and there around 700 enrolled at any one time, a huge increase from the 70 taken on in the late 14th century.

In his summer holidays from Winchester, Mr Sunak waited tables in a curry house during the school holidays to boost his coffers, revealing an impressive work ethic few of his schoolmates are likely to have shared.

After finishing secondary school, he did indeed attend Oxford, studying politics, philosophy and economics at Lincoln College, and, according to Tatler, talked about himself as a future Conservative prime minister even then.

He then worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs before joining a series of hedge funds, marrying Ms Murthy, daughter of “India’s Steve Jobs”, NR Narayana Murthy, in August 2009 and finally entering politics by becoming the MP for Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales following the 2015 general election, succeeding William Hague.

If becoming chancellor within five years of winning his seat was an impressive achievement, becoming prime minister within seven is remarkable, but Rishi Sunak will need all the help he can get to make a success of his time in 10 Downing Street, given the myriad problems he has inherited from Mr Johnson and Ms Truss.

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