LONDON– Rishi Sunak became Britain’s third Prime Minister of the year on Tuesday and must now focus on taming an economic crisis that has left the country’s finances in dire straits and left millions of Britons struggling to afford food and energy bills.
Sunak, the first leader of the color of Britain, met at Buckingham Palace with King Charles III, who had just accepted Liz Truss’ resignation.
Sunak – at 42 the youngest British leader in more than 200 years – is expected to start appointing a cabinet immediately and grappling with an economy heading into recession. As the third Conservative Prime Minister this year, he will also seek to unify a party in government that has been torn apart after Truss’ short, disastrous tenure weakened Britain’s already difficult economic outlook.
Speaking at the PM’s residence, Sunak acknowledged mistakes made by his predecessor and vowed to put “economic stability and confidence” at the heart of his agenda.
He said he will face the “profound economic crisis” with compassion and lead a government of “integrity, professionalism and accountability.”
Truss departed after making a public statement outside the Prime Minister’s office at 10 Downing Street, seven weeks after her appointment as Prime Minister. Sunak was elected to replace her as leader of the ruling Conservative Party on Monday.
Truss offered a defense of her low-tax economic vision and short tenure before being evicted from the Prime Minister’s official residence for the final time.
MORE: Britain’s Prime Minister Liz Truss resigns, ending six-week term after politics sparked economic turmoil
“I believe more than ever that we need to be brave and face the problems we face,” she said. She stood by free market principles of “lower taxes” and “create growth” despite the market chaos unleashed by her Sept. 23 budget package.
Truss wished Sunak every success as Britain continues to “fight through a storm”.
Sunak’s top priority will be appointing cabinet ministers and preparing a budget statement outlining how the government intends to raise billions of pounds (dollars) to fill a budget hole created by rising inflation and a sluggish economy this exacerbates Truss’s destabilizing economic experiments.
The statement, which is expected to include tax hikes and spending cuts, is currently due to be made in Parliament by Chief Financial Officer Jeremy Hunt on Monday – if Sunak keeps him in office.
Sunak, himself chief financial officer for two years until July, becomes prime minister in a remarkable turnaround just weeks after losing to Truss in a Conservative election to replace former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Party members this summer chose their tax cut campaign over his warnings that inflation must be tamed.
Truss admitted last week that she could not go ahead with her plans – but only after her attempts unleashed market chaos and worsened inflation, at a time when millions of Britons were already grappling with rising borrowing costs and soaring energy and food prices.
The party is now desperate for someone to put the ship back on track after months of chaos under Truss and Johnson, who quit in July after becoming embroiled in ethics scandals.
Sunak was elected Conservative leader after being the only candidate to clear 100 nominations from other MPs for the party election. Sunak defeated rival Penny Mordaunt, who may get a job in his government, and the ousted Johnson, who had rushed back from a Caribbean vacation to rally support for a comeback bid but failed to garner enough support to run.
As well as stabilizing Britain’s economy, Sunak must seek to unify a governing party that has been embittered by its slump in the polls.
Conservative lawmaker Victoria Atkins, a Sunak ally, said the party would “settle down” under Sunak.
“We all understand that we really need to stand behind Rishi now – and in fairness the party has done just that,” she told radio station LBC.
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https://6abc.com/rishi-sunak-uk-prime-minister-british-pm-king-charles-iii/12374902/ UK prime minister: Rishi Sunak officially becomes Britain’s third prime minister of the year following Liz Truss resignation