The 43-year-old former Chancellor of the Exchequer, a devout Hindu, is the youngest British prime minister in 210 years. He is also the first Hindu Prime Minister of Indian heritage in the UK.
Speaking to ITV News, Sunak shared how his parents were so determined he should fit in and speak without an accent that he was sent for extra drama lessons. “You are conscious of being different,” he said.
“It’s hard not to be, right, and obviously I experienced racism as a kid.”
Sunak also recalled the pain of hearing slurs directed at his younger siblings, adding that racism “stings” and “hurts in a way that other things don’t”.
He felt what he experienced would not happen to his children now.
Discussing his Indian heritage, Sunak said his parents were keen for him and his siblings – a brother and sister – to “fit in and not for it to be, in any way, shape or form, a barrier”.
His mother, he added, was particularly conscious of how her children spoke. “One of the things my mum was obsessed with was that we didn’t speak with accents and we would speak properly,” he said. “So she was keen for us to try to do some extra drama.”
“I think any form of racism is simply unacceptable,” he continued, adding that when he speaks to world leaders, “most people look to the UK as an example of how to get this right”.
Sunak admitted that he never dreamed there might one day be an ethnic minority prime minister “because you didn’t have role models like that. [It] hadn’t happened yet.”