LONDON CNN — Former Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak will become Britain’s next prime minister on Monday, beating out the only remaining rival in a fierce race to become Conservative leader. Another potential candidate, Penny Mordaunt, gave up after she failed to meet the nomination criteria needed to advance to the next level of the primary. Shortly before the number of her nominees was announced, Mordaunt promised her full support for Sunak. Sunak will be the first person of color and the first Hindu to lead England. At 42, he is also the youngest person to take office in 200 years. After the announcement, Sunak said he was “humbly and honored” to be elected leader. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to be able to serve a political party I love and to be able to repay a country that owes me so much,” he said in a short TV statement. Sunak will be appointed as the successor of Liz Truss, who will become the shortest prime minister in British history. Sunak will become prime minister on Tuesday when officially appointed by Charles III, becoming the first prime minister appointed by the new king after Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September. CNN understood that the King was traveling from the Sandringham royal estate to London on Monday afternoon, as always planned. He will have an audience with Truss on Tuesday morning before meeting with Sunak. Sanjay Chandarana, who heads a Hindu temple co-founded by Sunak’s grandparents in 1971, said Sunak’s rise is a historic moment for the British South Asian community. “It’s a Barack Obama moment for us,” he said. British Prime Minister of South Asian descent. Chandarana, president of the Hindu temple of the Vedic Society in Southampton, told CNN. Sunak’s grandparents were born in India and his parents immigrated to England from East Africa in the 1960s. In an interview in 2015, Sunak spoke openly about his British Indian descent in an interview with Business Standard. “I am completely British and this is my hometown and homeland, but my religion and heritage are Indian and my wife is Indian. I am open to being Hindu,” Sunak told Business Standard. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered “the warmest congratulations” to Sunak on Monday, calling the new prime minister a bridge between the two countries. Modi tweeted: “Special Diwali hopes to be a ‘living bridge’ for the British Indians as we transform historic ties into modern partnerships. Truss also congratulated Sunak after the announcement, saying he has “full support” from Sunak on Twitter. After gaining the support of 100 Conservative MPs, a required criterion set by party officials, Sunak officially announced he would stand up on Sunday. By Monday he had the support of more than half of the party’s 357 MPs. His campaign gained momentum when his former boss and rival, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, stepped down from the primary on Sunday night. Monday marks the culmination of Sunak’s astonishingly quick rise to power. He was first elected to Parliament in 2015 and became Deputy Minister in 2017. It was Johnson who gave Sunak the first major government role. He appointed him Minister of Finance in 2019 and was promoted to Prime Minister in 2020. But Sunak, who became Britain’s third prime minister in seven weeks, faces enormous challenges. His party is losing popularity, splitting after four months of political turmoil and financial market turmoil. At the same time, the UK is facing a serious economic crisis, and many economists believe it is already in recession. He has already been heavily criticized by opposition politicians. Like Truss, Sunak didn’t have to win a general election to become prime minister because the Conservatives are still the largest party in the House. So their leader automatically becomes the Prime Minister. Deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, Angela Rayner, called for an early general election, saying Sunak “has no authority and doesn’t know what the workers need.” “We need a general election so that the public can talk about the future of Britain and the opportunity to make a fresh start with Labor,” she said. It is not uncommon for a prime minister to take office without an election. Four of the last five British Prime Ministers have taken office for the first time without a general election. But the fact that Sunak is the UK’s third prime minister since the last vote in 2019 and the second prime minister to take office without a public vote is adding to the burden. Sunak is not obligated to vote. According to the law, the next general election must be held in January 2025 at the latest. With Labour leading the polls, he wouldn’t do that. Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon also criticized the way Sunak came to power and called for Scottish independence. “For Scotland he has become another prime minister we didn’t and will no doubt not vote if given the chance. Scotland must become independent if we are to avoid the harm of the government of Westminster, which is not here to be empowered, and to put our future in our hands,” Sturgeon said. “The UK is a great country, but there is no doubt that we are facing serious economic difficulties,” Sunak said in a statement on Monday afternoon. “Right now, we need stability and unity, and we will make it our top priority to bring the party and the country together. Because that is the only way we can overcome the challenges we face and build a better and more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren,” he added. As a former prime minister, Sunak has experience dealing with economic crises. He led the UK through the COVID-19 pandemic and created a huge fiscal stimulus. He hasn’t provided details on his planned policy in the past few days, but when he ran against Truss in the Conservative leadership primary in the summer, he positioned himself as a “sound financial” candidate. He was considered the most moderate of his two candidates. He agreed with Truss that taxes should be lowered, but he said, all cuts can only be made once inflation is under control and could take years. He criticized Truss’s economic plan, which ultimately sparked a panic in the financial markets and resulted in his death. UK Treasury bond prices rose at an all-time high, pushing borrowing costs up. Investors seemed to welcome Sunak’s rise to power. The pound strengthened against the US dollar on Monday and the FTSE 250 index of British companies strengthened.
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