London (AP) — Former Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak He is set to become Britain’s first prime minister of color after being elected Monday to lead the ruling Conservative Party, which is desperate for safe hands to lead the country through economic and political turmoil.
The challenges facing Britain’s third prime minister this year are enormous. He must sustain a teetering economy that slides into recession after his predecessor’s brief and disastrous experiment. Libertarian economics seeks to unite demoralized and divided political parties that lag far behind the opposition in polls.
In his first public statement, Mr Snack said: “The UK is a great country, but there is no doubt it faces serious economic challenges.”
“We need stability and unity now and we will make uniting the party and the country a top priority,” said Sunak, who at 42 was the youngest British prime minister in 200 years.
Snack becomes first British prime minister with South Asian roots And its first Hindu leader is a milestone for a country with a vast colonial past and is still a contested nation.
Sunak, party leader elected at major Hindu festival on Diwali, takes over after Liz Truss, who resigned last week After 45 turbulent days in the office. His only remaining rival, Penny Mordaunt, conceded and withdrew after failing to reach the threshold of 100 Conservative MP nominations required to remain in the election.
Sunak has been asked to form a government by Charles III and will be turned over to power by the Truss on Tuesday to become prime minister.
The victory validates Sunak, who lost to Truss in the Conservative Party election to replace former prime minister Boris Johnson in the summer, choosing her boost to tax cuts over his warning that party members must curb inflation. is doing.
Truss admitted last week that she was unable to carry out her plan, but millions of Britons are already facing rising borrowing costs and energy shortages after her attempt caused market turmoil and exacerbated inflation. and suffered from rising food prices.
The party is now desperate for someone to put the ship right after months of turmoil, both at Truss’ short term and at the end of Johnson’s term.
As finance minister, Snack steered the economy through the coronavirus pandemic, praising the financial support for furloughed workers and closed businesses.
He now faces major challenges in trying to keep markets calm and inflation under control amid weakening government finances, a deteriorating economic outlook and a wave of strikes. Treasury Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whom Truss appointed 10 days before him, plans to produce an emergency budget report on Oct. 31.
The UK is also facing broader economic challenges stemming from the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and its 2020 exit from the European Union. Sunak said he was a staunch supporter of Brexit.
Minutes after winning Monday’s election, Sunak was met with rapturous cheers from Conservative MPs at a closed-door session in Parliament.
Former cabinet minister Chris Grayling said Mr Sunak urged the party “to unite and solve the problems facing the country” and received an “enthusiastic reception”.
Thérèse Coffey, who was deputy Prime Minister of the Truss, said the whole party should now support Sunak.
“We have to stand by him,” she said.
But Snak has faced backlash from Johnson’s supporters for resigning from the government in July. His background as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, and his wife’s vast wealth (she’s the daughter of an Indian billionaire) also keep him out of the public’s struggles. Encourages sensation
He takes the reins after Truss’ proposals for aggressive tax cuts financed through government borrowing sent the pound plummeting in value, pushing up government borrowing and mortgage costs and forcing the Bank of England’s emergency intervention. Truss made a series of U-turns and replaced the Treasury Secretary, but faced a mutiny from members of her party who erased her authority.
In a lightning-fast contest for her replacement, Snack’s position was strengthened after Johnson dramatically quit the race On Sunday night, he ended a short-lived, high-profile attempt to return to the post of prime minister, which was ousted just over three months ago amid an ethics scandal.
The possibility of Mr Johnson’s comeback has thrown the already divided Conservative Party into further turmoil. Although he led his party to a landslide victory in 2019, his premiership was clouded by scandals over money and ethics that ultimately became unbearable for the party.
he threw in the towel He won late Sunday despite claiming he was “well-positioned for a Conservative victory” in the upcoming national elections.
Conservative party turmoil has increased calls for national elections.Under the UK parliamentary system, not required until the end of 2024although the government has the authority to call earlier.
Now that seems unlikely. Polls show the election will be a disaster for the Conservatives, with the centre-left Labor Party winning a majority.
Tim Bale, a professor of political science at Queen Mary University in London, said the Conservatives were “still not out of the woods” after picking Sunak.
“Certainly, voters may give Rishi Snack a little impetus and praise Liz Truss a little bit for not being Liz Truss, but I think they’re certainly in love with the Conservative Party as a whole,” he said. . “So I don’t think this will make much of a difference in the polls.”
Associated Press writer Danika Kirka contributed to this article.
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