By Martin Leduc
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The day after his victory in the British Conservative Party, Rishi Sunak will meet this Tuesday, October 25, 2022, King Charles III, who will officially appoint him Prime Minister, the third in two months in a country rocked by unprecedented instability and a deep social crisis..
It is the first time that Charles III appoints a head of government. The outgoing tenant of Downing Street, Liz Truss, had been received by Elizabeth II on September 6 during an audience at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The 96-year-old sovereign died two days later.
Liz Truss, who announced her departure last Thursday after just 44 days in office, will make her final speech outside 10 Downing Street at around 10.15am UK time and then travel to Buckingham Palace to hand in her farewell to the King.
Rishi Sunak will then be received in audience by the sovereign. He will finally go to Downing Street, where he will give a speech at around 11.35am English time.
Former banker and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, aged 42, becomes the youngest head of government in Britain’s modern history after a meteoric rise in politics. He is also the first British leader of Indian origin and the first from a former British colony.
After his victory in his formation on Monday, he promised “stability and unity”. “Bringing the party and the country together will be my top priority,” he said in a brief speech. “Britain is a great country, but there is no doubt that we face a deep economic challenge.”
Rishi Sunak becomes head of government in a country facing a serious economic and social crisis. Inflation exceeds 10%, the highest in the G7. Energy prices are sky high, as are food prices. The risk of recession hovers.
It will also need to calm markets, shaken by the Truss government’s budget announcements at the end of September, since they were mostly canceled in disaster.
Rishi Sunak comes to power during a period of unprecedented instability. He is the fifth British prime minister since 2016, when the country chose to leave the EU in a referendum, and the third in two months.
He takes the leadership of an extremely divided conservative party after twelve years in power. As the Labor opposition tops the polls two years after the general election, Rishi Sunak has warned MPs in his camp to “unite or die”.
A warning that appeared on the front page of many British dailies. On the side of the tabloids is Daily mail hails a “new era” while it Sun shout “May the force be with you Rishi” and put a lightsaber in the hand of this avid Star Wars fan.
Rishi Sunak ruled out early elections, demanded by Labour. But according to an Ipsos poll published on Monday, 62% of voters want such an election before the end of 2022.
According to a YouGov poll, only 38% of Britons are satisfied with Rishi Sunak becoming their Prime Minister.
This early Brexiteer, going for a pragmatic Labour, will need to form a government quickly, to both provide guarantees to the markets and satisfy the clans of his majority, at the risk of suffering the same fate as Liz Truss. He will also have to explain his intentions: he did not speak during the Tories’ lightning campaign, which started on Thursday.
He won without a program or a vote of members after former Prime Minister Boris Johnson stood down and his opponent Penny Mordaunt failed to qualify.
During the previous campaign, last summer, when he was beaten by Liz Truss, this former Chancellor of the Exchequer (2020-2022) had insisted on the need to fight inflation, qualifying the promises of tax cuts in his “adventure” opponent.
On immigration, he said he supported the ultra-controversial program of sending migrants who arrived illegally in the UK to Rwanda. However, this project is blocked in court.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden hailed as “revolutionary” the appointment of the new British leader, who was vice president of Barack Obama, America’s first black leader.
Congratulating Rishi Sunak, European Council President Charles Michel insisted on the need to restore “stability” to the UK.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also sent his “warmest congratulations” to his incoming British counterpart, hailing the existence of this “living bridge” with his country that Indians in the United Kingdom form, at a time when “we are about to transform our historical ties”. into a modern partnership”.
Source: © 2022 AFP
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