Rishi Sunak, in his first public address as prime minister, vowed to undo “mistakes” done by Liz Truss’ administration and warned of “tough decisions” to come. As he led the UK through what he called “a grave economic catastrophe,” he vowed to restore public faith and cultivate trust.
Mr. Sunak assured voters that he will deliver the Conservatives’ winning platform in the upcoming 2019 election. After being named Prime Minister by King Charles, he gave his statement in front of No. 10.
After warning Tory MPs to work together or face losing their majority in the next election, Mr. Sunak, the first British Asian prime minister, formed his cabinet this afternoon. In a major upheaval, Grant Shapps was named business secretary, Dominic Raab was restored to the position of deputy prime minister, and Jeremy Hunt continued in his role as chancellor.
Because Mr. Sunak had the support of a large majority of MPs and his sole surviving challenger, Penny Mordaunt, withdrew from the race, a vote among Tory members was unnecessary. Following Mr. Sunak’s address, the opposition parties repeated their demand for a general election and said that the public had not given Mr. Sunak a mandate to lead.
Ms. Truss’s troubled premiership came to an end on Monday, only 49 days after she took office, when Mr. Sunak was effectively crowned as Tory leader. Ms. Truss was chosen prime minister in the summer after she won a ballot among Conservative Party members and defeated Mr. Sunak. She was able to do this by advocating a plan to reduce taxes as a means of winning over voters.
However, her mini-budget, which included a package of unfunded tax cuts, was mainly abandoned due to political and economic instability, which in turn destabilised her government. In her departure address, Ms. Truss stood by her economic policies, saying that being prime minister had taught her the importance of being “bold.”
Ms. Truss “was not wrong to want to boost growth in this nation – it is a great ambition,” Mr. Sunak added in his own speech, praising the efforts of Boris Johnson and Ms. Truss. But there were certain mistakes, Mr. Sunak admitted. Having nothing to do with ill will or bad intentions. The fact is, though, that blunders are occasionally made.
I was put in charge of the party and made prime minister in order to address these issues, which is why I was selected to do so. And we jump right into it, getting to work. Mr. Sunak, the outgoing chancellor, said this “would mean painful decisions to come” and that the government will make “economic componence and stability” a top priority.
Although he did not provide specifics, it is safe to assume that options included both ways to pay for energy bill assistance and decrease in government debt.
Mr. Sunak is expected to cut spending in order to address a £40 billion hole in state finances.
A Downing Street official said that on Mr. Sunak’s first day in office, he called Volodymyr Zelensky to “underline the United Kingdom’s firm support for Ukraine.”
Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States, called the British prime minister and reportedly said, “the UK remains America’s closest partner.” The prime minister and Vice President Biden “saved” the Good Friday peace deal, which established power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
It happens as the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the post-Brexit agreement between the UK and EU, is the subject of heated debate. Mr Sunak also spoke with the prime ministers of Wales (Mark Drakeford) and Scotland (Nicola Sturgeon).
According to Ms. Sturgeon, Mr. Sunak’s conversation was “productive,” and according to Downing Street, he emphasised the “responsibility” to work closely together. Mr. Drakeford said the call had allowed them to “explore the significance of working together as four nations” in order to address the “urgent concerns” facing the UK.
Mr. Sunak spoke somberly about the economic challenges ahead of him as he addressed his new neighbours outside his new home at Downing Street. When he first showed up, neither of his daughters nor his wife, Akshata Murty, were there.
He reflected on the decisions he made as chancellor, including as the furlough programme that helped businesses pay their employees during the Covid-19 outbreak. Mr. Sunak has promised to apply the same compassion to the problems we confront now, while also noting that “there are always limitations.”
Except for a brief television remark on Monday night, this was Mr. Sunak’s first public appearance since he was selected as the Tory leader. The 42-year-old ex-hedge fund manager, a member of parliament for barely seven years, assumes power as his party’s support falls dramatically.
Johnson, Mr. Sunak’s old boss, claimed that only Mr. Sunak could bring the Conservatives together and win the next election, as the party sought its third leader this year. Mr. Johnson, who had only recently resigned as prime minister, subsequently withdrew from the fight for the Tory leadership after announcing that it was not the “appropriate time” for a comeback.
Mr. Sunak spoke of Mr. Johnson’s “great achievements” but did not give him full credit for the party’s 2019 election success. A mandate my party obtained in 2019 is a mandate that belongs to and unites all of us,” the Prime Minister said. It does not belong to just one person.
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Moreover, our manifesto is fundamental to fulfilling that responsibility,” he continued. I vowed that I would see its promise through. If Mr. Sunak departs too far from his party’s 2019 programme, which promised to “level up” the nation, the calls for an early general election could intensify.
Since the next election in the United Kingdom isn’t due to take place until at least January 2025, Mr. Sunak isn’t obligated to call a referendum under the legislative system there. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, on the other hand, said that Mr. Sunak’s refusal to call a general election showed that the Conservative Party “does not trust the British people,” who “would be justifiably upset that they have been denied a say.”
Labour Party leader Anneliese Dodds argued that the country required “a fresh start” after “12 years of Conservative failure,” of which Mr. Sunak was a part. In a meeting with his shadow cabinet this morning, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer referred to Mr. Sunak as a “ruthless” political operative and warned his party against complacency.
Sir Keir said that Mr. Sunak “will not deliver for working people,” and he told his MPs to “ignore the noise” if the next prime minister offers the Tories “a huge poll bounce.”