Charged by King Charles III to form a government, Conservative Rishi Sunak warned Britain on Tuesday of the “difficult decisions” ahead as he tries to send a message of “hope” in a beleaguered country.
Charged by King Charles III with forming a government, Conservative Rishi Sunak warned Britain on Tuesday of the “difficult decisions” ahead as he tries to send a message of “hope” in a country mired in a serious economic and social crisis.
Former banker and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak becomes the first British Prime Minister of Indian origin, of the Hindu faith, and the first to come from a former British colony. At 42, he is also the youngest head of government in Britain’s modern history after a meteoric rise in politics.
“I will unite our country not in words but in deeds”, he assured, promising to “repair” the “mistakes” made under Liz Truss, facing a right-legged desk, in contrast to the spiral of its predecessor.
Speaking in a serious tone, he explained that he was “not daunted” by the scale of the task. “We will create a future worthy of the sacrifices so many have made and will fill tomorrow and every day after with hope,” he continued.
Rishi Sunak reiterated British support for Ukraine in the “terrible war” waged by Moscow, which must “end successfully” for Kiev.
He also said he was ‘conscious’ of the work that needed to be done to ‘rebuild trust’, he said in an allusion to the scandals under Boris Johnson, to whom he expressed his ‘gratitude’, in his first speech to the famous black lacquered door stamped with the number 10.
The latter sent him his “congratulations” on “this historic day”.
Forced to leave after the storm caused by his massive tax cut plan, Liz Truss had preceded him to Buckingham Palace to present her resignation to the king, after a period of record short: 49 days.
She wished her successor “all the success” in the world, “for the benefit of our country” and, in a plea for audacity in power, quoted the Roman philosopher Seneca: “it is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. , it is because we don’t dare that they are difficult”.
She then handed in her resignation to Charles III at Buckingham Palace. The 73-year-old sovereign has entrusted the task of forming a new government to Rishi Sunak, who, unless he is surprised, should notably keep Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Rishi Sunak takes the reins of a country facing a severe economic and social crisis. Inflation exceeds 10%, the highest in the G7. Energy prices are rising, as are food prices. The risk of a recession hovers.
He will also need to reassure markets, shaken by the Truss government’s budget announcements at the end of September, when 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 Britain voted 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. With the Labor opposition leading the polls two years before the general election, Rishi Sunak warned his camp’s MPs that they must “unite or die”.
He ruled out early elections, demanded by Labour. But according to an Ipsos poll published on Monday, 62% of voters want such an election by the end of 2022.
Rishi Sunak, an early Brexiteer who goes for pragmatic Labour, will have to work with his government to both provide guarantees to the markets and satisfy the clans in his majority, at the risk of suffering the same fate as Liz Truss. He will also have to detail his projects, having imposed himself without a program or a vote of the members.
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 and described the promises of tax cuts by his “fairy tale” opponent.
On immigration, he said he supported the ultra-controversial project, and currently blocked, of sending migrants who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom to Rwanda.