Biden calls new UK PM ‘Rashee Sanook’
US President Joe Biden mispronounced the name of new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Monday while commenting on his appointment. The slipup adds to a growing list of gaffes from the president.
Speaking at an event to mark the Indian holiday of Diwali (‘Festival of Lights’), which celebrates the triumph of good over evil, Biden hailed the nomination of Sunak, who is of Indian descent, as “a groundbreaking milestone” that really “matters.”
“We've got news that Rashee Sanook is now the prime minister,” the US leader said. “As my brother would say, 'go figure.'”
On Tuesday, Sunak officially took office as the new British prime minister after a meeting with King Charles III, who had formally accepted the resignation of Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss. The latter had spent just 44 days in the position, becoming the shortest-serving PM in the nation’s history.
Sunak, a 42-year-old former chancellor of the Exchequer and ex-hedge fund boss, is the first person of color and the first Hindu to ever lead the UK. He won the Tory party leadership race after his main opponent, Penny Mordaunt, failed to receive the required number of votes from Conservative MPs to appear on the ballot. Former UK PM Boris Johnson, another potential rival, chose to pull out of the contest earlier.
Meanwhile, as Biden is mulling a run for re-election in 2024, he has on many occasions found himself in hot water over gaffes, which have underpinned widespread concern about his physical and mental state.
Last week, a video went viral on social media showing the US president apparently looking confused as he struggled to find the exit from the stage at a rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At a White House event in September, Biden mistakenly called out for Representative Jackie Walorski, who had died in a car crash a month earlier.