Will Freeports help Britain

Rishi Sunak: The anti-populist


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Never before has a British Chancellor of the Exchequer spent the money with such full hands as Rishi Sunak is currently doing. The forty-year-old star of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's cabinet repeatedly announces new billions. Regardless of whether it is loans to companies, continued wages for short-time workers or vouchers for restaurant visits: Sunak starts wherever it can help. He must help the economy back on its feet after the shock of the corona pandemic - in the hope that the country will be able to repay its national debt when it has recovered.

The Office for Budget Discipline estimates in its latest report that the UK's net borrowing this year will be the equivalent of 354 billion euros (Germany: 218.5 billion euros), i.e. 16.4 percent of gross domestic product (Germany because of the stronger economy : 7.25 percent). The British new debt would be five times as high as in the previous year. It's no wonder, given the UK's worst recession in 300 years. Due to the massive expenditure and lower tax revenues, the total debt will increase to 106.1 percent of economic power in the next three years, which is actually only to be accepted because the state can currently finance itself at extremely low interest rates. That's why Sunak has Johnson's backing. He can spend as much money as necessary.

Who is this young politician who suddenly moved into the limelight a year ago when he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer and who is already being treated as a possible prime minister of the future? Sunak appears statesmanlike, quite the opposite of Johnson: calm and level-headed, his speeches clearly structured, precise and brilliantly presented, never populist, always factual, and all of this with great authority.

No ties to the EU

Nevertheless: Sunak is a die-hard Brexit supporter and good Lieutenant Johnson, nobody should underestimate that. Like Interior Minister Priti Patel, the Chancellor of the Exchequer belongs to the community of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent who have no cultural or historical emotional ties to the EU. On the contrary: for them, the EU is a community of states whose citizens in Great Britain were unjustly favored until Brexit, often to the detriment of their family members from Asia. Hence the pride with which Patel presented her plans for a new British immigration law this week: a points system that treats foreigners - regardless of whether they are from the EU or Asia - equally with regard to their professional qualifications.

Sunak would never have had any problems. His father was a doctor, his mother a pharmacist. Both were children of Indians who had emigrated to Great Britain via a detour from Kenya and Tanzania in the 1960s. The family worked and learned hard. No wonder that Sunak, the eldest son, made it to the elite school in Winchester and from there to Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics and history, like many politicians before him. But Sunak always kept an eye on the City of London. In 2001, after completing his studies, he joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst.

It was the typical entry point for a career-conscious young banker. After four years, Sunak went to Stanford University on a Fulbright Scholarship, where he completed an MBP program. After that, he started where the most money could be made in the City of London: with a hedge fund - the Children's Investment Fund (TCI) run by Chris Hohn. German bankers and stockbrokers know Chris Hohn. In 2005 he attacked Werner Seifert, the head of Deutsche Börse at the time, with his hedge fund, and finally forced him to resign. Sunak was Hohn's partner at TCI at the time, very obliging, polite - and very convincing when it came to getting new money from investors.

A seat in Yorkshire

In 2009, Sunak married a young Indian woman named Akshata Murty whom he met at Stanford University. She is the daughter of one of India's richest men, entrepreneur and billionaire N.R. Narayana Murthy, who founded Infosys decades ago as a small programmer. The company evolved into the IT group that made India the center of IT outsourcing. Before long, Sunak was also a director of his father-in-law's private equity firm, Catamaran Investment Pvt Ltd.

With a billionaire father-in-law and a wife allegedly worth £ 300 million herself, Sunak no longer had to toil in the city. He got into politics, albeit on the side of the Conservative Party, which is backed by so many City hedge funds. In 2015 he was given the safe seat of MPs in Richmond in Yorkshire by the Tories.

The citizens of Yorkshire were not enthusiastic when suddenly Sunak and his father-in-law showed up, people who had never played a political role in Richmond up to that point. But Sunak was elected and henceforth campaigned for the Brexit referendum to leave the EU. He pleaded for the freedom to be able to plan free ports and thus new investment locations after Brexit.