Rishi Sunak will become Britain’s third prime minister of 2022 after his leading rivals dropped out of the race.
Rishi Sunak will become Britain’s third prime minister of 2022 – and the first of Indian descent – after his leading rivals dropped out of the race.
- The former U.K. Treasury chief will take office after one of the most turbulent years in modern British history.
- Sunak was elected leader of the Conservative Party on Monday unopposed after former Prime Minister Boris Johnson shockingly dropped his comeback bid Sunday night. His lone remaining rival, cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt, quit the race shortly before nominations were due.
- Sunak will enter office during an economic crisis in Britain hallmarked by surging inflation and energy costs.
- The crisis has been exacerbated by his predecessor Liz Truss’s disastrous tax cut plan that spooked financial markets and destroyed her premiership after seven weeks in office.
- Rishi Sunak will be Britain’s second prime minister from an ethnic minority background, at 42 the youngest in nearly 200 years, the first Hindu, and the first of Indian descent.
- Sunak’s ascent comes as Hindus worldwide celebrate Diwali and is seen as a “watershed moment” for the U.K.
- Sunak is becoming PM seven weeks later than he had hoped – he was the runner-up in the summer’s ill-fated leadership contest that produced Liz Truss.
- The fabulously wealthy Sunak has had a rapid rise to power. Sunak won his first political office in 2015 and only took on his first prominent Cabinet role in 2020. The former Covid-era chancellor’s ability to win elections is unproven, and Labour attacks on Sunak’s wealth are expected to dominate the next general election, likely in 2024.
- The New York Times outlined the most pressing issues Sunak will need to tackle once he’s been asked to form a government by King Charles III. He will need to aid households facing rising energy costs due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, try and get inflation under control and make the tough tax and spending decisions necessary to bring down Britain’s debt.
- The Guardian reported on Sunak’s history-making status as Britain’s first Hindu prime minister. Sunak lit candles to mark Diwali outside his official residence during his time as chancellor, which he described as one of his proudest moments, and swore his oath to Parliament on a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred Hindu text.
- CNN noted that although Sunak has been elected Conservative Party leader, he will only become prime minister after King Charles III formally asks him to form a government. It is unclear whether that meeting will take place on Monday or Tuesday.
- The Wall Street Journal wrote that Sunak, a former hedge-fund manager, will take over Britain with “a mandate to bring calm.” Financial markets reacted positively to his victory, although tough financial decisions lie ahead.
- The Telegraph reported some Tory MPs are “already sharpening the axe in readiness for another execution.” The author argued the Conservative Party’s addiction to “serial regicide” could bring down Sunak just as quickly as Truss was defenestrated.
- National Review argued the recent turmoil in Britain and other parliamentary democracies like Israel and Italy are important examples to remind Americans that the U.S. system “is still the best.” Author Dan McLaughlin wrote the “virtues” of the U.S. system include stability, fixed terms, and democratic input.
© Dominic Moore, 2022