New York Daily News: Rishi Sunak is set to become the third person in just two months to lead the United Kingdom after winning his bid for leader of the fractious ruling Conservative Party.
The 42-year-old son of South Asian immigrants will be the first person of color, the first Hindu and the youngest premier in two centuries.
“We now need stability and unity,” Sunak said in a brief statement. “I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together.”
“I will serve you with integrity and humility, and I will work day in, day out, to deliver for the British people,” he added.
Sunak replaces Liz Truss, who quit just 45 days into her tenure last week after her economic proposals threw the nation’s markets into crisis.
Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who quit the post amid a myriad of scandals over the summer, ended an unlikely quickie comeback bid after failing to win support from Conservative lawmakers over the weekend.
Sunak will officially be asked to form the next government by King Charles, a formality that is expected to take place Tuesday morning.
The former Treasury chief Sunak was born in southern England to immigrant parents of Indian descent from Kenya. He is married to the daughter of Infosys Chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy, India’s best-known and wealthiest tech mogul.
The groundbreaking nature of Sunak’s win was underscored by a congratulatory message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hailed him as a “human bridge” between Britain’s large South Asian community and the world’s largest democracy.
Some said Sunak’s selection was particularly special for the country with its recent celebration of 75 years of independence from British colonial rule.
“Today, as India celebrates Diwali in its 75th year as an independent nation, the U.K. gets an Indian-origin Prime Minister. History comes full circle,” lawmaker Raghav Chadha tweeted.
Sunak’s victory was met with derisive calls for a new general election by opposition leaders. The Conservatives are facing record-low poll approval numbers amid widespread economic woes but do not need to call a new vote until 2024.
“He is absolutely covered in the mess,” said Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party. “We have not had economic growth in the way we should have had in the last 12 years, and he is a major factor in that.”
Johnson, who resigned after skirting COVID-19 restrictions to attend drinking parties at the official 10 Downing St. residence, briefly stunned the British political world by launching a late albeit failed bid for a spectacular return to office.
After rushing back from a beach vacation, Johnson claimed Sunday to have the support of 102 lawmakers, which would’ve been enough to force a vote among the party’s rank-and-file members.
But the larger-than-life character dubbed BoJo pulled the plug Sunday after his support evaporated.
Despite his pledge to back the new Conservative leader, Johnson did not immediately join fellow Tory leaders in congratulating Sunak, a possible hangover from their acrimonious relationship during Johnson’s term in office.
Top Feature Photo: New Conservative Party leader and incoming prime minister Rishi Sunak waves as he leaves from Conservative Party Headquarters in central London having been announced as the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest, on October 24, 2022 – JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images