Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak won the leadership competition to be the next British prime minister Monday, following the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss last week.
Sunak, 42, was a prominent figure in former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet until his resignation and steered the country’s economy through the COVID-19 pandemic and the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Sunak first attempted to become the prime minister over the summer after Boris Johnson resigned from the position but was defeated by Truss. He announced his second bid after Truss’s resignation on Thursday.
As Britain’s former financial chief, Sunak had cast himself as the candidate who can best address the country’s economic crisis, with a background in finance and economics and as the parliamentary private secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
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“The United Kingdom is a great country but we face a profound economic crisis,” Sunak tweeted Sunday. “That’s why I am standing to be Leader of the Conservative Party and your next Prime Minister. I want to fix our economy, unite our Party and deliver for our country.”
Sunak, who is of Indian descent, will be the country’s first Hindu prime minister and first person of color to hold the country’s highest elected station.
Sunak said he would focus on tampering inflation rates before cutting taxes over the summer, arguing that it would increase the public debt and be worse for people in the long run if not addressed.
“It’s not moral to ask our children to pick up the tab for the bills that we’re not prepared to pay,” Sunak said in a debate against Truss.
Sunak also accused Truss of telling “fairy tales,” referring to the potential fallout of her proposed tax cuts. Truss did end up revealing a mini-budget on her ideas for the economy, but did not propose a way to finance the plan, causing economic uncertainty and worsening the economic crisis.
Sunak has been accused of taking a softened stance on China. However, the former chancellor of the exchequer said that the Chinese Communist Party represented the “largest threat to Britain and the world’s security and prosperity this century” back in July.
To tackle Chinese cyber threats, Sunak has proposed building a new international alliance of “free nations” to share best practices in technology security.
Sunak was first elected as the Conservative member of Parliament for Richmond in May 2015. In February 2020, Sunak was appointed as chancellor of the exchequer. As chancellor, Sunak rolled out a number of aid packages for businesses and residents to help them financially through the pandemic. Earlier this year, he unveiled a plan worth 15 billion euros that was aimed at providing relief to households struggling with the rising cost of living in the country.
He served in the role until July 5, 2022, when he resigned, signaling he had lost confidence in Johnson’s ability to lead the party. Prior to his time in politics, Sunak spent years working in finance and “co-founded an investment firm working with companies in multiple geographies,” according to his biography on the U.K. government’s website.
Sunak will meet with Truss and King Charles III later this week for the official exchange of power, where Truss will officially resign and Sunak will become the new leader. He is expected to give his first address as the new prime minister shortly after the meeting.