LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak became Britain’s third prime minister this year on Tuesday, tasked with taming an economic crisis that has left the country’s finances in a precarious state and millions struggling to pay their food and energy bills.
Sunak, who is it? the UK’s first black leadermet with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, where the monarch officially requested the new leader of the ruling Conservative Party to form a government, as is tradition.
Sunak secured the leadership position on Monday, seen by his party as a safe pair of hands he hopes will stabilize an economy slipping into recession and stem his own slide in popularity after Liz Truss’s brief and disastrous tenure.
His package of unfunded tax cuts spooked financial markets with the prospect of rising debt, pushed the pound to record lows and forced the Bank of England to intervene, weakening Britain’s fragile economy and erasing the authority of Truss within your party.
Sunak, at 42, the youngest British leader in more than 200 years, acknowledged the scale of his challenge, as well as the skepticism of a British public alarmed by the state of the economy and tired of a Conservative Party soap opera that has chewed to two main. ministers in as many months.
“I fully appreciate how difficult things are,” Sunak said outside the prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street. “And I understand, too, that I have work to do to restore confidence after all that has happened. All I can say is that I’m not intimidated.”
Sunak immediately set about filling his government posts, with the aim of putting his stamp on the government and attracting people from different wings of the Conservative Party. His first move was to remove a dozen members of Truss’s cabinet.
His goal is to assemble a cabinet whose expertise can erase memories of the missteps and U-turns of the last few months. But the center-right party’s divisions over immigration, relations with Europe and other big issues remain deep. Truss’s allies and their scandal-plagued predecessor Boris Johnson who have been demoted from government can now fuel complaints from the back benches of Parliament.
As head of the Treasury, Sunak became popular with the public by handing out billions in support to closed businesses and laid-off workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But now he will have to monitor tax increases and government spending cuts while trying to control inflation and public debt. A wave of wage strikes that has already seen walkouts by railway staff, telecom workers, garbage collectors, lawyers and port workers is likely to spread.
Acknowledging “tough decisions to come,” Sunak tried to draw a line under the chaos that engulfed Truss and Johnson. He said his administration “will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at all levels.”
Opponents already describe Sunak as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people because of his privileged private school background, previous career as a hedge fund manager and vast wealth.
Sunak “comes into office as a not particularly popular prime minister, but with a reputation for some semblance of economic competence,” said Alan Wager, a research associate at the UK think tank in a Changing Europe. “The problem will be that he is seen as someone who is not on the side of the people. He is seen as someone who is out of touch.”
Much of Sunak’s fortune comes from his wife Akshata Murty, whose father is the billionaire founder of Indian IT firm Infosys. The couple are worth 730 million pounds ($826 million), according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
In April 2022, it emerged that Murty did not pay UK tax on his foreign income. The practice was legal, and Murty soon agreed to give it up, but it looked bad at a time when millions of Britons were struggling to make ends meet.
In addition to forming a Cabinet, Sunak has to prepare for a budget statement that will set out how the government plans to put up billions of pounds (dollars) to fill a fiscal hole created by runaway inflation and a sluggish economy, and exacerbated by the weather. destabilizing Truss in office.
That declaration, which will include tax increases and spending cuts, is due to be made in Parliament on Monday by Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt, appointed less than two weeks ago by Truss and retained by Sunak. He was originally hired to stabilize the markets and removing him would have triggered further tremors.
Truss left on Tuesday after making a defiant public statement outside 10 Downing Street, seven weeks after she was appointed prime minister. She announced his resignation on Thursdayacknowledging that he could not fulfill his economic plans.
In his parting remarks, Truss defended his low-tax vision and his short and stormy term.
“I am more convinced than ever that we must be bold and confront the problems we face,” she said, before wishing Sunak success as “our country continues to battle through a storm.”
Sunak’s victory is a remarkable reversal of fortune just weeks after he lost to Truss in a Conservative election to replace Johnson. Party members chose his tax cut push over warnings from him that inflation must be controlled.
Sunak was elected as the Conservative Leader after becoming the only candidate to overcome the hurdle of 100 nominations from fellow lawmakers to run in the party’s election. Sunak defeated his rival Penny Mordaunt, who might get a government job from him, and ousted Johnson, who returned from a Caribbean vacation to rally support for a comeback attempt, but failed to garner enough support to make a comeback. apply.
Conservative lawmaker Victoria Atkins, a Sunak ally, said the rogue party would “establish itself” under the new leader.
“We all understand that now we really have to back Rishi,” he said.
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