Rishi Sunak Rishi Sunak  (ANSA)

Rishi Sunak to become Britain's Prime Minister

The former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak will become Britain’s next Prime Minister after Penny Mordaunt, the only remaining candidate for the Conservative party leadership contest, withdrew at the last minute.

By Susy Hodges

Rishi Sunak’s path to the top job was eased when his main rival, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, quit the leadership race, saying he realized that he could no longer unite their party.

Mr. Johnson, who was forced out of office by a rebellion of his ministers following a series of scandals, had flown home from an overseas holiday to see if he could enter the ballot.

But on Sunday evening the former premier announced he would not enter the race claiming that although he had enough support, now was “not the right time” for a return to frontline politics. Several of Mr. Johnson’s high-profile backers then switched their support to Mr. Sunak instead.

Many of Mr. Johnson’s supporters had previously accused Sunak of betrayal after he quit as finance minister in the summer, triggering the rebellion that forced him out.

Rebuilding Britain's reputation

Mr. Sunak first came to national prominence when he became finance minister under Johnson just as the Covid pandemic hit, developing a furlough scheme to support millions of people through multiple lockdowns.

The new leader faces a daunting set of challenges including rebuilding the nation’s damaged fiscal reputation after the Truss government’s mini-budget of sweeping tax cuts caused the economy to tank following massive turmoil in the markets.

Britain is sliding into a recession while its people are being battered by soaring energy and food prices and rising mortgage rates.

After one of the most turbulent periods ever in British political history, many people here have grown increasingly angry and disgusted at the conduct of its politicians.

The main opposition Labour party, meanwhile, has reiterated its call for a general election saying Britain needs “a sensible grown-up government” instead of “this absolute chaos.”

Listen to Susy Hodges' report
24 October 2022, 16:06