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Joe Biden mispronounces Rishi Sunak’s name in congratulatory blunder

Joe Biden mispronounces Rishi Sunak's name

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US President Joe Biden was giving a speech at the White House to mark the Indian holiday of Diwali when he learnt Rishi Sunak, who is of Indian descent, had just been elected Prime Minister by the Conservative Party. He hailed his election as a “groundbreaking milestone” given he is the first Asian British Prime Minister to ever be elected to the highest office of the United Kingdom. But his mispronunciation of the name as “Rashee Sanook” did not go unnoticed.

Celebrating the new Prime Minister’s victory, President Biden stumbled over Rishi Sunak’s name. 

Despite several attempts at it, he eventually gave up and ended up calling him “Rashee Sanook” – another blunder to add to the long list of gaffes that have been fuelling speculations about his declining mental abilities. 

In his speech, President 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.

President Biden added: “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.”

Rishi Sunak has made several milestones with his election, as he became the country’s youngest leader to ever be elected, the first Asian British Prime Minister and the first UK Prime Minister to hold a US business education. 

His grandparents, born in British India, emigrated from East Africa in the 1960s with their families to move to Britain where Mr Sunak would graduate from the University of Oxford before gaining an MBA from Stanford University, California.

According to protocol, Joe Biden will call Rishi Sunak in the coming days after the incoming Prime Minister meets King Charles, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. 

Britain has its first Prime Minister of colour 14 years after the US elected Barack Obama took office in 2008 as the first Black President ever elected. 

Though Mr Sunak’s election was branded as a groundbreaking moment for representation, a Labour MP reportedly said the election of a multi-millionaire former hedge fund boss is “not a win for Asian representation” in a tweet that has since been deleted.

Nadia Whittome, a Labour party MP and member of the Socialist Campaign Group, reportedly tweeted: “Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister isn’t a win for Asian representation.”

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The 26-year-old, who also has Indian roots, added: “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.”

Rishi Sunak’s election has also sparked cries from the Opposition, with Labour MPs claiming he does not have a mandate given he wasn’t elected either by the British people or the Conservative grassroots – raising questions about the legitimacy of the party electoral system.

Prime Minister Sunak is expected to form a cabinet after Liz Truss’ disastrous 44-day premiership.

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