UK is world’s most successful multi-faith democracy, says Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak celebrated the UK as the “world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy” while visiting a Hindu temple.

The Prime Minister spoke of the “events of the last few days” as he addressed Hindus in the main worship hall of the Neasden Temple in north-west London, referring to the allegations of racism dogging rival party Reform UK.

Akshata Murty, the Prime Minister’s wife, joined him in the visit to the temple complex, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, on Saturday evening.

Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, stand in front of a statue
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty during a visit to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Dan Kitwood/PA)

The couple visited the Mandir, the temple itself, taking part in prayer rituals, before Mr Sunak addressed hundreds of Hindus in the main hall.

A priest speaking before Mr Sunak said it had been a “matter of great pride for the British Hindu community to have seen a practising Hindu and his family become residents of No 10”.

He also joked: “You have really raised the bar for children in our community. It is no longer enough to become just a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant.

“Because Indian parents across the country are now saying you can also become prime minister.”

Mr Sunak was presented with a flower garland as he approached the stage, and touched the feet of the priest in a mark of respect.

The audience clapped and cheered as he bowed to make the gesture.

Rishi Sunak speaks at a lectern
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thanked Hindus for their support (Dan Kitwood/PA)

“You have been with me every step of the way. On the hardest days in this job, I have felt you backing me,” the Prime Minister told the crowd.

He added: “I know the pride there is to have a British Asian Prime Minister and I am determined to never let you down.”

Mr Sunak later added: “I am proud to be the first British Asian Prime Minister and I am even prouder that it is not a big deal.

“The events of the last few days should not make us forget that the United Kingdom is the world’s most successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy and we should all be uplifted by that.”

Campaigners for Nigel Farage’s party Reform UK in the Clacton seat in Essex that he hopes to win were recorded by an undercover journalist from Channel 4 making racist comments, including about the Prime Minister who is of Indian descent.

In response to the incident, Mr Sunak talked about the impact on his family: “To know my girls may have heard their dad be called a ‘f****** P***’ by someone campaigning for Reform is shocking.

“We are better than that as a country.”

General Election campaign 2024
Mr Sunak and his wife performed rituals (Dan Kitwood/PA)

After addressing worshippers, what was supposed to be a swift exit turned into an approximately 20-minute walkabout among the crowd for the Prime Minister.

People rushed from their seats to shake Mr Sunak’s hand, or as was the case among the children present, to give him a high five.

When speaking with older members of the Hindu community, Mr Sunak often bowed to touch their feet in respect.

An elderly gentleman he spoke to during the temple tour appeared to say he was praying for the Prime Minister to win the election.

“Oh gosh, thank you,” Mr Sunak said, as he clasped the man’s hands.