Joe Biden: US president hails Rishi Sunak’s rise to Prime Miister as a ‘groundbreaking milestone’
Rishi Sunak was announced as the UK's next Prime Minister after Penny Mordaunt and Boris Johnson dropped out of the race.
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At an event in Washington on Monday (24 October) evening, Biden said “it matters” that for the first time a person of colour, who is also the child of Indian immigrants, could rise to the highest political office in the country.
What did Joe Biden say?
Addressing the crowd, Biden said: “And whether it’s the United Kingdom, where just today, we’ve got news that Rishi Sunak is now the prime minister. As my brother would say, ‘go figure’
“And the Conservative Party, expected to become the Prime Minister, I think, tomorrow when he goes to see the King.
“Pretty astounding. A groundbreaking milestone. And it matters, it matters.”
Biden congratulated Sunak, who is a practising Hindu, on one of the religion’s more joyous festivals, Diwali; a five-day “Festival of Lights” celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
A brief overview of Rishi Sunak
The former chancellor gained backing from half of all Tory MPs, with some switching their allegiance to him after former prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed he was not running.
Sunak’s grandparents were from Punjab state before the Indian subcontinent was divided into two countries, India and Pakistan, in 1947 after British colonial rule ended. His family settled in the UK in the 1960s and he was born in Southampton in 1980.
Sunak, 42, will make history as the first non-white UK prime minister and also be the youngest in over a century.
Sunak is a practising Hindu, taking his House of Commons oath on the Bhagavad Gita.
Talking about his religion to the Business Standard in 2015, Sunak said: “British Indian is what I tick on the census, we have a category for it. I am thoroughly British, this is my home and my country, but my religious and cultural heritage is Indian, my wife is Indian. I am open about being Hindu.”
With his Indian ethinity, Sunak said he speaks basic Hindi and Punjabi and pointed out that he doesn’t eat beef, which has “never been a problem”.