Rishi Sunak will become British prime minister on Monday after other candidates quit the race to lead the Conservative Party, leaving him with the task of steering a deeply divided country through an economic downturn set to leave millions of people poorer.
King Charles will invite Sunak, one of the wealthiest members of parliament, to form a cabinet in place of Liz Truss, who held the position for just 44 days before resigning.
While his challenger, the former prime minister Boris Johnson, withdrew from the race claiming he could no longer unify the party, he overcame centrist politician Penny Mordaunt, who was unable to secure enough support from parliamentarians to be included in the vote.
“This decision is a historic one and shows, once again, the diversity and talent of our party. Rishi has my full support,” Mordaunt said in a statement as she withdrew from the race just minutes before the winner was due to be announced.
On hearing that Mordaunt was leaving, the price of the pound and British government bonds briefly increased, but they quickly dropped back to their former levels.
Former finance minister Sunak, 42, takes office as Britain’s third prime minister in less than two months. He is tasked with bringing peace to a nation that has been in instability for years due to political and economic unrest.
The wealthy former hedge fund manager is anticipated to implement significant spending cuts in an effort to restore Britain’s fiscal credibility as the nation is being pulled into a recession by rising energy and food prices.
Britain has been locked in a state of perma-crisis ever since it voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, unleashing a battle at Westminster over the future of the country that remains unresolved to this today.
The most recent event has caused shock in foreign capitals and ridicule in the world press.
Sunak came to national attention when, aged 39, he became finance minister under Johnson just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit Britain, developing the successful furlough scheme.
The former Goldman Sachs analyst will be the first prime minister of Indian descent to lead the United Kingdom.