Sunak, who formerly served as finance minister under Boris Johnson, will be the country’s first nonwhite prime minister, as his parents are of Punjabi Indian descent. His succession as leader of the Conservative Party comes after years of political chaos within the faction, including the failure of an economic growth and tax cut plan from Truss that led to her resignation after a mere six weeks in power.
“The United Kingdom is a great country but we face a profound economic crisis,” Sunak said in a statement yesterday. “I have the track record of delivery, a clear plan to fix the biggest problems we face and I will deliver on the promise of the 2019 manifesto. There will be integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level of the government I lead and I will work day in and day out to get the job done.”
Members of the Conservative Party had resolved to choose the nation’s next leader by the end of the week in order to maximize political stability. Johnson abandoned his surprise bid to return to power after he failed to gain the support of at least 100 of the 357 Conservative ministers, a requirement for advancing to the next round of the contest. News of Sunak’s attainment of the premiership occurred after Penny Mordaunt, a fellow Conservative lawmaker, announced that her colleagues had made a decision to back Sunak “in good faith for the good of the country,” effectively leading her to drop out of the contest.
“These are unprecedented times. Despite the compressed timetable for the leadership contest it is clear that colleagues feel we need certainty today,” Mordaunt said. “This decision is an historic one and shows, once again, the diversity and talent of our party. Rishi has my full support.”
Sunak, who is 42 years old, will be the youngest British prime minister in more than two centuries. He had predicted the negative market effects of Truss’ economic plan earlier this year during the campaign to replace Johnson. Indeed, after investors concerned about the government’s ability to meet debt obligations jettisoned their assets, Truss announced last week that she would eliminate portions of her plan and dismiss finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng. The political chaos occurs immediately after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, who approved Truss as the head of government days before her death.
More than 100 Conservatives had conspired to oust Truss, according to a report from The Daily Mail. “She has lost the confidence of the markets and she is hemorrhaging support. We need to cauterize the wound, and fast,” one unnamed minister told the outlet. “There is an overwhelming desire among colleagues for it to be over — people want it done this week.”
Despite nixing her tax cuts, Truss pushed for higher fossil fuel production and set the goal of becoming a net exporter of energy by 2040 in a portion of her agenda that appears to remain intact. She also announced a new round of oil and gas leases for the North Sea and lifted her nation’s moratorium on shale gas production, including the technique of fracking, by which pressurized liquid is injected into underground rocks to extract fuels.