How Did Rishi Sunak Become UK Prime Minister?
New UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Takes Office
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

How Did Rishi Sunak Become UK Prime Minister?

Manon Lamy October 25, 2022

On Monday October 24, Rishi Sunak was officially announced as the UK’s next Prime Minister and the Conservative party’s next leader. The previous Thursday, Liz Truss announced she would be resigning as she was unable to carry on the mandate she was elected for. Since then, it has been a whirlwind. Who would become the next PM? Was Boris Johnson really coming back to throw his hat in the ring?

It soon became clear that Penny Mondraut would not have the backing of enough MPs. She dropped out of the race and Sunak was officially confirmed as the next PM. He needs the backing of at least 100 MPs to be on the balot and, in the end, he surpassed that number by some way. The King will now ask him to form a government on his behalf on Tuesday.

Sunak, the first British Asian PM has a lot to do as he enters office. Even if it has been a couple of chaotic weeks in Westminster, he still vows to bring ‘stability and unity’ for his party and for the country.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

What happened for Sunak to become PM?

Most of us were not expecting that the UK would see yet another Prime Minister step into 10 Downing Street. Especially not this soon. It all started when Liz Truss’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng, presented his mini budget. This intense mini budget includes some sweeping tax cuts that destabilises the markets.

Soon after, the pound falls at an all time low against the US dollar. An economic crisis is looming but averted by the people at the Bank of England who have to prop up the bond market to avoid an economic crisis. Truss is warned that her actions could have devastating consequences and could impact the wider European global economy. Even the US steps in.

Truss says she should have done more to lay groundwork before these intense new economic policies. However, Kwarteng soon announces a U-turn of his original plans to cut the 45 p rate of income tax on earnings above £172,000.

Markets take a bad hit at this announcement. Truss’s government also fails to show how they will pay for these tax cuts. Behind closed doors, Liz Truss is facing rebellion. She decides to sack Kwarteng and replaces him with Jeremy Hunt. There is then a complete turn in the policies so that the economy could be brought under control.

In her first, Prime Minister Question Time, Liz Truss emphasises that she is a fighter, not a quitter. However, less than 24 hours later she stands in front of 10 Downing Street announcing her resignation. She then becomes the shortest Prime Minister in office at only 45 days.

Who is Rishi Sunak?

When Liz Truss won the election in September, Rishi Sunak would never have thought he would become Prime Minister just six short weeks later. However, here we are. Sunak is not like previous Prime Ministers. He was born to immigrant parents who settled in the UK from East Africa but are of Indian descent.

This makes him the first British Asian PM. It is a big step forward for the UK. 10 or 20 years ago this would have been very unlikely to see. As he replaces Truss, Sunak also becomes the youngest Prime Minister for 200 years, aged just 42.

There are many things that make Mr Sunak an interesting Prime Minister. One of these is that he is a practicing Hindu. That is something we have never seen in Downing Street. Furthermore, he has only been an MP for seven years. He was first elected in 2015 for Richmond in North Yorkshire.

Mr Sunak rapidly moved through the ranks and was appointed as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2020 just a month before the COVID-19 pandemic.

What kind of leader will he be?

Over the summer campaign, Sunak presented himself as a low tax Tory. However, he first must deal with what has happened in the last six weeks that saw Liz Truss in power. During the summer he campaigned to drop the bottom rate of income from 20% to 16%.

Mr Sunak has also pledged himself to making the United Kingdom energy dependent by 2045. When it comes to immigration, he has said that he would do whatever it takes for him to make the Rwanda immigration deal to work.

In regards to the war in Ukraine, Sunak said he would redouble the support the UK gives to Ukraine.

However, it remains to be seen how these policies will be implemented since parliament is so divided, not only within the Conservative party but in parliament itself. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how Mr Sunak deals with the many U-turns conducted by Ms Truss’s time in office and what he will do with it all.

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Manon is a freelance journalist for Freshered. She joined Freshered in February 2022 where she is still working today. As a freelance journalist she enjoys covering everything from international politics to Formula 1 and travelling. Manon is currently in her final year of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham after returning from a year abroad in Vienna, Austria. She hopes to continue her studies in Journalism.