Rishi Sunak becomes UK’s 57th prime minister


(Reuters) – Rishi Sunak became Britain’s third prime minister in two months on Tuesday, tasked with tackling a mounting economic crisis, a warring political party and a deeply divided country in one of the greatest challenges to confront any new leader.

The 42-year-old former hedge fund boss was asked to form a government by King Charles, and will seek to bring an end to the infighting and feuding at Westminster that has horrified investors and alarmed international allies.

He will address the nation from Downing Street shortly and then start building his cabinet of senior ministers.

Sunak, one of the richest men in parliament, will have to find deep spending cuts to plug an estimated 40 billion pound ($45 billion) hole in the public finances due to an economic slowdown, higher borrowing costs and a six-month programme of support for people’s energy bills.

With his party’s popularity in freefall, Sunak will also face growing calls for an election if he moves too far from the policy manifesto that elected the Conservative Party in 2019, when then leader Boris Johnson pledged to invest heavily in the country.

Economists and investors have said Sunak’s appointment will calm markets, but they warn that he has few easy options when millions are battling a cost of living crunch.

“With a recession in 2023 now increasingly likely, and the next general election in only two years’ time, Rishi Sunak can expect a challenging premiership,” Eiko Sievert at the Scope ratings agency told Reuters.

Sunak has warned his colleagues they face an “existential crisis” if they do not help to steer the country through the surging inflation and record energy bills that are forcing many households and businesses to cut back spending.

“We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together,” he said as he was elected by his lawmakers on Monday.

Courtesy: Written by Reuters