London — Rishi Sunak will be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom, following current premierthat she will step down. The 42-year-old former U.K. treasury chief will be the country's third prime minister in under two months, its youngest prime minister since 1812, and the first person of color to serve in the role. He is of Indian heritage and Hindu faith.
"I pledge that I will service you with integrity and humility," Sunak said, at the headquarters of Britain's Conservative Party on Monday. "It is the greatest privilege of my life to be able to serve the party I love and give back to the country I owe so much to."
Sunak, who used to work in finance, is — alongside his wife, tech heiress Akshata Murty — one of the wealthiest people in the U.K. He served as treasury secretary under Boris Johnson, and many Conservative members of parliament — and many Brits in general — will be hoping that his economic credentials can help to stabilize a falling pound and skyrocketing inflation and interest rates.
He was a vocal critic of the tax-cut-focused economic plan put in place under Truss just a few weeks ago, which sent shockwaves through international markets and eroded investors' confidence in the U.K. Despite virtually all of that plan being scrapped shortly after it was announced, global confidence in Britain's economic stability has yet to recover.
On Monday, Sunak was able to secure the backing of over 100 of his fellow Conservative Party lawmakers, qualifying him as a candidate in the party's leadership contest that was triggered when Liz Truss announced her resignation. His main competitor, Penny Mordaunt, dropped out of the race just ahead of the 2 p.m. Monday deadline to secure the necessary number of backers, and.
U.K. prime ministers are not chosen directly through general elections; they are typically the leaders of the parties that hold the most seats in parliament. Thus, the Conservative Party process of selecting a new leader, as it holds a majority in parliament, was also to determine who would serve as the new premier.
Sunak will only become the prime minister once Truss formally submits her resignation to King Charles III, and the monarch then formally asks Sunak to form a new government. That is expected to happen on Tuesday.
Under U.K. law, there must be another general election, where the public votes for members of parliament, by January 2025. The government — which is still led by the same Conservative Party that has been in power for more than a decade — is tasked with scheduling the next public vote, and it can do that at any point before the deadline. Some, including the opposition Labour party, are calling for a general election to be held immediately.
But with the recent political chaos caused by convulsions within the Conservative Party itself, the "Tories," as the Conservatives are also known, are polling at historic lows against Labour. The new government may be reluctant to call an election ahead of the deadline, because it could mean the party risks losing its parliamentary majority.
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