‘Rashee Sanook!’ Humiliating moment Joe Biden mispronounces name of the UK’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in congratulatory speech
- Biden was speaking at a White House event to mark the Indian holiday of Diwali
- He congratulated Rishi Sunak who is about to become UK’s new prime minister
- But he stumbled over Sunak’s name, instead calling the new PM ‘Rashee Sanook’
- Sunak will be Britain’s first ever non-white prime minister – a feat hailed as a ‘groundbreaking milestone’ by Biden
Joe Biden on Monday hailed the expected appointment of Britain’s first non-white prime minister as a ‘groundbreaking milestone’, but failed to pronounce his name correctly.
Biden, speaking at a White House event to mark the Indian holiday of Diwali, said Rishi Sunak, who is also of Indian descent, is expected to be named prime minister today after seeing King Charles.
But the President stumbled over Sunak’s name, making several failed attempts before calling him ‘Rashee Sanook’ – the latest in a long line of gaffes which will only fuel widespread speculation of his declining mental state.
Sunak, a 42-year-old multimillionaire former hedge fund boss, will become the country’s youngest leader in modern times and its third in less than two months as his Conservative Party endures a period of considerable turmoil.
His family migrated to Britain from India in the 1960s, a period when many people from Britain’s former colonies moved to the country to help it rebuild after World War Two.
‘We’ve got news that [Rishi Sunak] is now the prime minister,’ Biden said. ‘A groundbreaking milestone, and it matters.’
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden would call Sunak in coming days, noting that it was protocol for the U.S. president to wait to offer his congratulations until after an incoming British prime minister had met with the monarch and been formally invited to form a new government.
Biden, speaking at a White House event to mark the Indian holiday of Diwali, said Rishi Sunak, who is also of Indian descent, is expected to be named prime minister today after seeing King Charles. But he stumbled over Sunak’s name, calling him ‘Rashee Sanook’
New British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will today meet King Charles, who will welcome him and officially ask him to form new government
Mr Sunak has pledged to run Downing Street with ‘integrity and humility’, but warned of ‘profound challenges’ to come as he prepares to begin his premiership
In his speech, 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”!’ he exclaimed, to a round of laughs from the audience.
‘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.’
However, an opposition member of Parliament in Britain spoke out on Twitter against Sunak, claiming his appointment is ‘not a win for Asian representation’ because of his vast personal wealth.
Nadia Whittome, a Labour party MP and member of the Socialist Campaign Group, told her followers that Britain’s new leader is ‘not on your side’.
‘Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister isn’t a win for Asian representation,’ the 26-year-old, who also has Indian roots, tweeted yesterday.
‘He’s a multimillionaire who, as chancellor, cut taxes on bank profits while overseeing the biggest drop in living standards since 1956.
‘Black, white or Asian: if you work for a living, he is not on your side.’
Her tweet was later deleted after she was contacted by Labour headquarters and told to remove it, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Rishi Sunak has been named as the new Prime Minister today (pictured with 1922 Committee officers) after Boris Johnson sensationally dropped out of the Tory leadership race last night
Sunak’s wife Akshata Murthy hails from Indian business aristocracy: her father is Narayana Murthy, a billionaire sometimes dubbed the ‘Bill Gates of India’ who founded a software firm Infosys in the early 1980s and is now the country’s sixth richest man
Nadia Whittome, a 26-year-old MP and member of the Socialist Campaign Group, claimed Britain’s newest Prime Minister was ‘not on your side’
Although her initial tweet was deleted, Ms Whittome doubled down on her critique of Mr Sunak’s personal fortune in later tweets
With his victory in the Conservative party leadership race coming on Diwali, Sunak will become the UK’s first ever Hindu Prime Minister, the first of Asian heritage and the youngest to take up the mantle in more than two centuries at the age of 42.
Sunak will ascend to Downing Street after previous prime minister Liz Truss resigned after just 45 days in office.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Sunak on Twitter and wrote: ‘Special Diwali wishes to “living bridge” of UK Indians as we transform historic ties into modern partnership.’
Sunak has previously spoken about how his Asian identity matters to him, telling the BBC: ‘I’m a first generation immigrant. My parents emigrated here, so you’ve got this generation of people who are born here, their parents were not born here, and they’ve come to this country to make a life.’
The UK’s first – and only other – minority prime minister was Benjamin Disraeli, who was Jewish, in 1874.
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