Rishi Sunak became official The third prime minister of Britain In seven weeks on Tuesday, admitting that Mistakes were made by his predecessor in his quest to stabilize the UK after months of political and economic turmoil.
He was appointed by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace in London shortly after Liz Truss submitted her resignation to the King after an abnormal 50-day period. The British economy shook to its core.
Sunak became the first person of color and the first Hindu to lead Britain after winning a quick contest to lead the Conservative Party on Monday. At 42, he is the youngest person to hold the position in more than 200 years.
After being called upon to form a government by the King, Sunak returned to Downing Street where he delivered a speech aimed at alleviating some of the public’s concerns and outlining aspects of his prime ministership.
In his first speech as Britain’s new prime minister, Sunak said the nation was going through a “deep economic crisis”, before paying tribute to Truss.
“I admire her concern for bringing about change. But some mistakes have been made. Not in bad faith or in bad intentions. On the contrary in reality, but mistakes nonetheless. And I was elected as my party leader and prime minister in part to fix them. And this work begins immediately.”
Sunak highlighted his experience as finance minister during the pandemic to illustrate how he intends to tackle the challenges ahead.
“During Covid, you’ve seen me do everything I can to protect people and businesses, with schemes like vacation. There are always limits, more than ever. But I promise you this: I will offer the same compassion for the challenges we face today.
“The government I lead will not leave the next generation – your children and grandchildren – with debts to settle that we are too weak to pay for ourselves. I will unite our country, not in words but in action.”
Sunak added, “I will work day in and day out to deliver you. This government will have integrity, professionalism, and accountability at every level.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Truss gave her outgoing speech on the Downing Street podium before taking a short drive to Buckingham Palace.
Despite her disastrous tenure that saw her become Britain’s shortest prime minister, Truss appeared full of confidence and smiles, calling her time in office a “great honour”, adding later that “brighter days lie ahead”.
“We simply cannot afford to be a low-growth country where the government takes an increasing share of our national wealth, and where there are huge gaps between different parts of our country,” Truss said of the economy. We need to take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit to do things differently. This means providing more freedom to our citizens and restoring power to democratic institutions.”
Truss concluded by wishing Sunak “every success for the good of our country.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Sunak began forming his new government, reinstating MP Dominic Raab as deputy prime minister, justice minister and chancellor, and retaining Jeremy Hunt as British chancellor.
Hunt was appointed as chancellor earlier this month after Truss fired his predecessor, Kwasi Quarting. Hunt later reinstated most of the major Kwarteng policies proposed in the controversial “mini-budget” in September.
Sunak has restored Soyla Braverman to the position of Home Secretary, a role she had resigned from last week under the Truss government, precipitating the end of the former prime minister’s term. James Cleverly and Ben Wallace will continue to serve as British Foreign Secretary and Defense Secretary, respectively.
Tuesday’s developments mark a stunning turnaround for the man whose resignation as finance minister was instrumental in bringing down Boris Johnson’s government earlier this year, but who then lost the summer leadership race. At that point, Sunak’s ambitions for the highest political role in the country seemed to be dead.
However, when Truss’ premiership imploded last week, Sunak quickly became the favorite to take over the party again. Now in the top position, he faces a plethora of challenges to steer the country out of the crisis.
His party is divided, losing to the opposition Labor Party in opinion polls after four months of political chaos and financial market chaos. At the same time, Britain is facing a major economic crisis, with many economists believing it is already in a recession.
He is already under heavy criticism from opposition politicians who are calling for a general election.
Labor leader Keir Starmer congratulated Sonak on becoming Britain’s first Asian prime minister on Tuesday, but reiterated calls for a public vote.
Conservatives have wrecked the economy, with low wages, rising prices and a cost-of-living crisis. “The public needs a fresh start, and a say in Britain’s future,” Starmer said.
Sunak, like Truss, did not have to win the general election to become prime minister because the Conservatives are still the largest party in the House of Commons, and their leader therefore automatically becomes prime minister.
It is not unusual for a prime minister to take office without an election – four of the last five British prime ministers entered office for the first time without a general election. But the fact that Sunak is the UK’s third prime minister since the last poll in 2019 and the second to take office without a public vote adds to the pressure.
According to the law, the next general election must be held no later than January 2025. With Labor ahead in the opinion polls, it is unlikely to take such a step.
Sunak is under no obligation to call for a vote and appeared to rule out the possibility in his Downing Street address when he said he would “always be grateful to Boris Johnson for his incredible accomplishments”.
He added, “I know he will agree that the mandate my party received in 2019 is not the sole property of anyone. It is a mandate that belongs to us and unites us all.”
Johnson later offered his congratulations to the new prime minister in a Twitter post, calling his appointment a “historic day”.
“This is the right moment for every governor to give the new prime minister his full and sincere support,” Johnson said.
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