Where Sunak differs from Truss, Johnson and the average of other prime ministers (including Thatcher and Blair) is in his high level of distrust. This means that Sunak is less likely to trust and work closely with his advisers, political opponents, parliament and other world leaders than his predecessors. Sunak’s level of mistrust is not as high as that of some other leaders, such as Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte, but his score is above average when compared to 284 leaders around the world.
Distrustful leaders are also prone to perceive external threats and engage in aggressive foreign policies. They are also particularly susceptible to pursuing external aggression when their country experiences economic downturns. This is especially true for leaders whose thinking is less nuanced, like Sunak. An aggressive foreign policy in times of economic downturn is a form of diversionary foreign policy. Foster and Keller’s research has shown that this combination of distrustful leaders and bad economies produces diversionary foreign policies in both countries. WE. and the UK. Diversionary foreign policy does not necessarily mean the use of military means, but it does mean that Sunak can be confrontational abroad to deflect attention from economic woes at home.
There is no doubt that the UK will continue to face extraordinary challenges. Changes in leadership during difficult times are often accompanied by a hopeful sigh of relief, and we anticipate potential positive and negative results from Sunak’s personality profile. Sunak’s simplistic thinking, focus on relationships, propensity to defy constraints, and distrustful character could push him toward much-needed decisive action without being distracted by critics, doubting advisers, and deceptive adversaries. But they could also be catastrophic if he doggedly pursues ill-advised policies that exacerbate rather than ameliorate the difficult times ahead. Either way, understanding Sunak’s leadership profile and his similarities and differences with other UK prime ministers can provide valuable insights to help us make sense of future UK policies and responses to the challenges he faces. is confronted.
about the authors
Consuelo Thiers is a Fellow in International Security at the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI). Visit their website.
Juliet Kaarbo is Professor of International Relations with a Chair in Foreign Policy at the University of Edinburgh and founding co-director of the Scottish Council on Global Affairs. Visit their website.
Ryan Beasley is a senior lecturer in the School of International Relations at the University of St Andrews. Visit their website.
Pictured: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrives at Downing Street. Photo by Lauren Hurley/No 10 Downing Street. Taken from Flickr and licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.