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Clockwise from top: Dale Rooney, John Shenton, Ananda Shakespeare and Russell Hemmings. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: British expats in the UAE have shared mixed reactions to Rishi Sunak’s appointment as the UK’s latest Prime Minister, third in three months, on Tuesday.

The 42-year-old Sunak, who is of Indian origin, is the first British Asian premier.

Gulf News spoke to a few Britons in the UAE on Sunak’s premiership. Here is what they have to say.

‘He is highly respected’

Dubai-based clinical and cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist Russell Hemmings said he was excited about Sunak’s appointment as the PM.

“He seems to have all the qualities of a good leader. He is highly respected in society including in political circles. But he is still going to have to hit the ground running,” observed Hemmings.

“The world is currently going through turbulent times and the UK is having its fair share. One of his priorities will be to deliver economic stability. We need a strong leader to rebuild confidence in the country. Only time will tell, but Sunak taking his position as the PM is definitely going to help the country right now.”

Hemmings said, “When he was the chancellor, Sunak was prominent in the government’s financial response to the COVID-19 crisis and its economic impact including the coronavirus furlough payment and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme which he played a strong part in.”

He also thinks that Sunak’s nomination on a Diwali day was symbolic. “It has happened during Diwali, the Indian festival of lights and the UK needs a bright light. I am sure his family is proud of him and I wish him the best.”

Strong fiscal policy

Ananda Shakespeare, CEO of Shakespeare Communications, said, “We want a leader who cares about whether people can pay their heating bills this winter and have enough money to put food on their tables. We need more politicians to truly represent the problems their constituents have. I’d like to see calm markets and greater stability in the UK, particularly after the chaos of Brexit and the hardship that the pandemic brought to some people. The most important thing that Sunak can bring to the table right now is a strong fiscal policy. His every move will certainly face close scrutiny, and I think he has a huge task ahead of him, to reassure the markets, the party and the people that the UK is in safe hands.”

Amy-Louise Paige Vale, office manager of a data and analysis company, is among those who believe Sunak will bring in economic stability.

Amy-Louise Paige Vale

Sunak has an extensive economic background and I feel confident that his agenda for economic stability, development and growth will bring positive change to Britain whilst restoring the confidence of the British people in its government,” she said.

‘I don’t think much will change’

Dale Rooney, a Ras Al Khaimah-based physical education teacher, said his immediate reaction after the recent political changes back home was “how did we get to a point of having our third PM in less than six months.”

“Another PM not voted in by the electorate, with no mandate from the British citizens, at a time when the UK economy is in crisis. It is worrisome,” Rooney lamented. “I don’t expect much will change in terms of strong leadership coming out of this party and I worry for people I know back home because people are struggling to make ends meet,” he added.

Tasks ahead

John Shenton, a contract manager, said, “When something this significant happens, it is important to be circumspect. Away from any considerations of identity politics that the expatriate community may have, Rishi Sunak is far and away the richest man in Parliament, a right-wing ideologue, and tasked with convincing the very poorest people in the country to stomach a hard winter and some tough budget cuts, but without an electoral mandate from the country or his party. This is going to make for compelling viewing.”