Rishi Sunak takes over as UK’s prime minister; all eyes now on his economic plan

Rishi Sunak became Britain’s third prime in two months on Tuesday at a time when the UK faces what he has termed a “profound economic challenge”. Mr Sunak’s rise coincides with his Conservative Party’s struggles to heal divisive wounds from months of infighting.

Mr Sunak now leads the Conservatives with a substantial parliamentary majority inherited since the 2019 general election, when his former boss Boris Johnson helped win seats in areas of Britain that had never traditionally voted for the centre-right party.

“It is only right to explain why I am standing here as your new prime minister," Mr Sunak told the crowd of journalists on Tuesday that had gathered outside No. 10 Downing Street’s famous front door, after formally accepting his new role from King Charles during a meeting at Buckingham Palace.

“Right now, our country is facing a profound economic crisis,” he said. “The aftermath of COVID still lingers.”

After Liz Truss’ imploded premiership left the Conservative poll numbers sinking to historic lows, Mr Sunak will have around two years to restore confidence among his legislators that they can retain power at the next national vote after 12 years of leading the government.

Mr Sunak now has to “try to set out an economic plan and a plan for the country that gives the country some reassurance and may even bring his party to a kind of unity, but that remains the big question”, Bronwen Maddox, the CEO of Chatham House, a London-based think-tank has said.

That economic plan will be slightly easier to formulate now than it would have been even two weeks ago as financial markets have reacted positively to his selection. The markets are also reassured about the country’s new Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt after he had cancelled tax cuts trumpeted by Ms Truss and her team. Mr Hunt’s role as a stabilising force may help him retain the role that he was appointed to by Ms Truss.

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