Rishi Sunak is to become the UK’s next prime minister, replacing Liz Truss who resigned last week.
In a short speech this afternoon (24 October), Sunak, the UK’s first British Asian prime minister and the youngest to take the top job since 1812, said the country faced “profound” economic challenges, which would require stability and unity to overcome.
He concluded the short statement by pledging to serve the UK with “integrity and humility”, and to work “day in, day out” for the British people.
Rival candidate Penny Mourdant dropped out of the leadership race just moments before nominations closed.
Sunak is set to begin the role tomorrow (25 October). Power will be transferred from Truss, who will have been prime minister for just 51 days.
However, opposition parties including Labour and the Green Party have called for a general election. Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay said the Conservatives’ policies are failing people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
Sunak has ruled out calling another general election.
UK’s economic challenges
CBI director-general Tony Danker said the former chancellor of the exchequer had a track record of seeing the economy through difficult times.
“The new prime minister can lose no time in easing the impact of market turmoil on households and firms, and helping to restore fiscal credibility,” said Danker.
“A fiscal plan for the medium-term next week that is both credible and a platform to generate economic growth will be central to achieving that.”
Seb Maley, CEO at tax insurance and consultancy firm Qdos, said Sunak’s government needed to “press the reset button and rethink how the UK’s smallest businesses are treated”, drawing attention to the recent U-turn on the repeal of IR35 reforms and the corporation tax hike set for next year.
“At a time of such uncertainty, the prime minister would do well to consider just how important independent workers are to the economy,” said Maley.
“Rishi Sunak becomes prime minister at a time when millions of self-employed workers are worried about their futures. In recent years, the independent workforce has been hit again and again by needless, short-sighted tax grabs – many of which Mr Sunak himself introduced while serving as chancellor. The prime minister has a long road ahead to win the support of the self-employed, but the work must start immediately.”
Andrew Megson, CEO at finance advisory service My Pension Expert, said: “Market stability will be a priority. Sunak’s first leadership campaign was led on a promise of fiscally conservative policies, which has already pleased the markets and given the pound a boost. However, it’s also crucial that the new PM focuses on immediate reassurances for Britons struggling to stay afloat amid a soaring cost-of-living crisis. Confirming his stance on key policies such as the triple lock, or benefits cuts, would be a step in the right direction.”