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Rishi Sunak becomes UK’s fifth prime minister in six years

Following a rapidly fought contest for leadership of the Conservative Party after Liz Truss’ dramatic resignation last Thursday, Rishi Sunak has been declared the party's new leader, and will thus become the UK’s new prime minister. Sunak is set to formally take on the role tomorrow morning, following a meeting with King Charles.


Sunak previously served as the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2020 until Truss became Prime Minister in 2022, and as Chief Secretary to the Treasury prior to this. He also worked in finance before becoming a politician, specifically at Goldman Sachs and hedge fund company The Children's Investment Fund Management. Notably, he is the first non-white British prime minister, and will also, at 42 years old, be the youngest person to take on the role in over 200 years.


Opposition parties including Labour and the Scottish National Party have maintained their calls since Truss’ resignation for a general election, citing the undemocratic nature of the Conservatives’ leadership selection. The process required that the winner obtained the support of 100 colleagues by 2pm today, and if no candidate could achieve this, it would go to a vote by Conservative party MPs and members. Indeed, Sunak confidently obtained the required amount of nominations by the 2pm deadline, leading his opponent Penny Mordaunt to drop out of the race and securing his win.


Crucially, at no point was the British public given a say in the outcome – which was also the case for the selection of Truss – leading opposition leaders like the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon to insist that Sunak has no “democratic legitimacy” as prime minister. Regardless, Sunak has rejected any calls for an early election - an unsurprising decision given that his party is 39 points behind Labour in some recent polls.


 Going into the role, Sunak is set to face some of the biggest economic and political challenges seen in the UK for decades, including the ongoing cost of living crisis. As the Financial Times report, Sunak acknowledged this today by stating: “The UK is a great country but there is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge. “We now need stability and unity and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together.”


 


 


Image Source: Number 10 on Flickr


 


 


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