The former UK finance minister Rishi Sunak wins the Conservative Party race to finally assume the office of the prime minister he missed out on less than two months ago.
Britain's incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to bring "stability and unity" at a time of economic crisis after he was named the Conservative party's new leader.
"The United Kingdom is a great country but there is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge," he told reporters on Monday, appearing to rule out an early general election.
"There is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge," Sunak said. "We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together."
Sunak defeated centrist politician Penny Mordaunt, who failed to get enough backing from lawmakers to enter the ballot, while his rival, the former prime minister Boris Johnson, withdrew from the contest saying he could no longer unite the party.
The former UK Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister.
Sunak, one of the wealthiest politicians in Westminster, will be asked to form a government by King Charles III, replacing Truss, the outgoing leader who only lasted 44 days in the job.
Truss resigned last week after her package of tax cuts spooked financial markets, hammered the value of the pound and obliterated her authority.
Sunak will be Britain’s first leader of colour and the first Hindu to take the top job. At 42, he'll also be the youngest prime minister in more than 200 years, a political prodigy whose youthful looks, sharp suits, and smooth, confident manner saw him dubbed "Dishy Rishi" by the British media.
To win, Sunak still must overcome allegations by opponents that he was a turncoat for quitting Johnson’s government as it foundered amid ethics scandals.
The near-simultaneous resignations of Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid on July 5 set off a chain reaction. Within 48 hours, some 50 members of the government had quit, and Johnson was forced to step down.
Sunak painted it as a matter of principle, saying he wanted to repair the “breakdown of trust” in politics. He also accused Truss of offering “fairy tales” by promising immediate tax cuts when he felt curbing soaring inflation was a bigger priority.
“I would rather lose having fought for the things that I passionately believe are right for our country, and being true to my values, than win on a false promise,” Sunak said in a BBC interview.
READ MORE: Sunak poised to become UK PM as Johnson quits contest
Sunak was born in 1980 in Southampton on England’s south coast to parents of Indian descent who were both born in East Africa. He grew up in a middle-class family, his father a family doctor and his mother a pharmacist, and says he inherited their hard-working ethos.
“I grew up working in the shop, delivering medicines,” he said during the campaign. “I worked as a waiter at the Indian restaurant down the street.”
He has described how his parents saved to send him to Winchester College, one of Britain’s most expensive and exclusive boarding schools.
There he mingled with the elite. Rivals recently dug up a clip from a 2001 television documentary about the class system in which the 21-year-old Sunak said he had “friends who are aristocrats, I have friends who are upper class, I have friends who are, you know, working class — well, not working class.”
After high school, Sunak studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University — the degree of choice for future prime ministers — then got an MBA at Stanford University.
He worked for the investment bank Goldman Sachs as a hedge fund manager and lived in the US, where he met his wife, Akshata Murty. They have two daughters.
Returning to Britain, Sunak was elected to Parliament for the safe Tory seat of Richmond in Yorkshire in 2015.
In Britain’s 2016 Brexit referendum, he supported leaving the European Union — a risky career move, since it went against the Conservative government’s policy.
When “leave” unexpectedly won, Sunak’s career took off.
He served in several junior ministerial posts before being appointed chancellor of the exchequer — head of the Treasury — by Johnson in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit.
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