Rishi Sunak called on his warring Conservative Party to unite as the UK’s incoming prime minister bids to fix the crisis facing the economy.
Speaking less than an hour after winning the race for prime minister Liz Truss, the former Exchequer Chancellor said his party needed to regroup after ousting two prime ministers this year, according to a report. legislators present at Sunak’s speech with MPs behind. closed on monday.
Sunak spoke shortly after his last remaining opponent, Penny Mordaunt, withdrew from the race at 10 Downing Street, calling on her team to “unite and work together for the good of the nation. ” That means there is no need for widespread voting among grassroots party members.
It was a remarkable turn in Sunak’s political fortunes, after the former Exchequer Chancellor left Boris Johnson’s government in July and subsequently lost to Truss in the summer’s final Tory leadership contest. But his repeated warnings that her plans would cause economic chaos proved correct and put him in a vital position when Truss’ premiership fell.
Even so, Sunak does not face bitterness and division within the Conservative Party. He remains overshadowed in the eyes of many Tory MPs for his role in Johnson’s downfall, and the former prime minister’s flirtation over the weekend with what would be an outrageous comeback just a few days. months after being ousted briefly threatened to derail Sunak’s hopes.
In the end, Johnson withdrew without ever showing that he had the support of the 100 Tory MPs needed to formally contest leadership. Likewise, Mordaunt withdrew just before influential Tory congressman Graham Brady announced which candidate had crossed that threshold.
It really meant a coronation for 42-year-old Sunak, who became the UK’s first Hindu prime minister and the country’s youngest in more than 200 years. The members of the Tory turf, who had the final say when Truss defeated Sunak last time, will have no input this time.
But Sunak now faces the daunting task of trying to bring that unity to a party that has experienced months of upheaval and is still divided over fundamental issues including Brexit and the economy. economic.
Some Tory MPs have even said that the party no longer has a mandate to govern, following the second leadership change since Johnson won the 2019 general election. avoid a GE,” former Culture Minister Nadine Dorries said on Twitter.
On Monday, there were signs that Tory MPs were preparing to rally in support of their new leader. After Sunak’s speech, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith – a right-wing Brexiteer of the party – told reporters: “It’s time to end this mental state.” And Alex Chalk, a One Nation moderate of the party, praised Sunak’s “incredible speech”.
“We have to move forward,” Chalk said. “He said it with an ingenuity and force that brought the room to life.”
Truss’ decision to step down was followed by weeks of turmoil as investors dumped UK assets. Her economic plan, which included borrowing to pay for big tax cuts, rattled markets and turned voters against the Tories further in record numbers.
After firing her first finance minister and longtime political ally, Kwasi Kwarteng, Truss brought in Jeremy Hunt – who backed Sunak on Sunday – to try to restore composure.
Hunt has managed that to some extent, but also forced the government to impose another round of punitive austerity at a politically sensitive time as Britons struggle with the cost of living. higher.
In a column for The Telegraph late on Sunday, Hunt pointed out that he and Sunak are a good fit on how to tackle the economy. Sunak will “turn what happened, make decisions in the national interest, and rebuild the extraordinary potential of our economy,” Hunt said.
Hunt is expected to issue a key statement on the Treasury’s tax and spending plans on October 31, a date chosen to better inform the Bank of England about the bank’s move. How quickly interest rates will increase. UK bonds rallied at the open on Monday on expectations of a Sunak preference.