Rishi Sunak will become the UK’s next prime minister today
By Mark Landler
Rishi Sunak, who will become Britain’s prime minister today, after prevailing in a chaotic Conservative Party leadership race, said Monday that his focus would be “stability and unity.”
A former chancellor of the Exchequer who is the son of Indian immigrants, Sunak, 42, won the contest to replace the ousted Liz Truss, who resigned under pressure Thursday after her economic agenda caused turmoil. Sunak will be Britain’s third leader in seven weeks and the first prime minister of color in its history.
“There is no doubt we face profound economic challenges,” Sunak said in a brief appearance Monday afternoon. “We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring my party and country together.”
The BBC reported that Sunak would become prime minister Tuesday morning after meeting with King Charles III.
Here’s what to know about Sunak’s victory:
— It puts him in the pathbreaking category of MargaretThatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister, and Benjamin Disraeli, its only Jewish prime minister. But it also puts him in office at an acutely difficult moment.
— Britain is suffering the global scourge of inflation, as well as the self-inflicted damage of Truss, whose free-market economic agenda, featuring sweeping tax cuts, upended markets and sent the pound into a tailspin.
— Sunak still faces steep hurdles in trying to unify a demoralized and divided Conservative Party. Boris Johnson’s aborted bid and Penny Mordaunt’s unsuccessful challenge will leave many members angry. Some continue to view Sunak as his former boss’s political assassin.
— The Conservatives lag behind the opposition Labour Party by more than 30 percentage points in polls. Calls for a general election have started and are likely to intensify as the new prime minister embarks on a belt-tightening economic program during a cost-of-living crisis.