It looks like Rishi Sunak is on the verge of becoming the next UK Prime Minister after Johnson withdrew from the race

  • Sunak’s win can be announced after 2pm
  • Penny Mordaunt races to secure support for his challenge
  • Borrowing costs fall as Boris Johnson withdraws from the race

LONDON (Reuters) – Rishi Sunak looked set to become Britain’s next prime minister after rival Boris Johnson withdrew from the race, admitting he could no longer unite his party after one of the most turbulent periods in British political history.

Sunak, the 42-year-old former finance minister, could become Britain’s third prime minister in less than two months on Monday, tasked with restoring stability to a country wracked by years of political and economic turmoil.

The former hedge fund chief, the millionaire, is expected to start deep spending cuts to try to rebuild Britain’s financial reputation, as the country slides into recession, due to the rising cost of energy and food.

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“The UK is a great country but we are facing a deep economic crisis,” Sunak said in a brief statement announcing his candidacy to lead the Conservative Party and thus become prime minister.

Britain has been in a state of perpetual crisis since it voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, unleashing a battle in Westminster over the country’s future that remains unresolved today.

The last dramatic episode aroused the indignation of foreign capitals and ridicule of the world press.

Johnson, who directed the Brexit vote, led his party to a landslide victory in 2019, only to be ousted from office less than three years later after a series of scandals. His successor, Liz Truss, only lasted 44 days before she resigned due to an economic policy that shattered the country’s economic credibility.

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Sunak, who did not say how he plans to govern, will inherit a party riven by ideology that some lawmakers still blame for Johnson’s death after he resigned in the summer, which led to a ministerial rebellion.

The ex-prime minister’s withdrawal late Sunday also left some ministers and lawmakers furious that they looked like an idiot after supporting him to return to Downing Street, only to have to change course and endorse Sunak hours later.

Cry and instability

“Since the modern era of politics began in 1832, never before have we seen so much turbulence and instability,” Anthony Seldon, historian and political biographer told Sky News.

Sunak could become prime minister – and the first person of color to lead the country – if Benny Mordaunt fails to get the support of 100 lawmakers by 2 pm (1300 GMT) on Monday.

Mordaunt, the leader of Parliament’s House of Commons, has received the support of about 90 politicians, according to a source on her team. Sky reported that nearly 190 supported Sunak.

If she fails to reach the threshold, Sunak will become Prime Minister. If it does reach the ballot, party members — some of whom hold Sunak responsible for bringing down Johnson — will pick the winner on Friday.

Britain’s borrowing costs fell on Monday after Johnson withdrew from the race. However, economists have questioned whether he can tackle the country’s finances while keeping the party’s multiple warring factions together.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt – the fourth in four months – is due to present a budget on October 31 to plug a public finance black hole that is expected to swell to 40 billion pounds.

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Jay Hands, head of private equity, said Britain’s dominant political party was no longer fit to run the country.

“It must move on from fighting its own internal wars,” he told BBC radio, urging conservatives to acknowledge that they had put the country on “the path to becoming the sick man of Europe” and that millions of people were now poorer. .

party unit

Investors have at least gotten some reassurance that Johnson will not compete for the crown.

The former prime minister, who raced home after a holiday in the Caribbean, said on Sunday that while he had enough support, he realized he could not govern effectively while the party remained divided along ideological lines.

“Boris has mobilized it,” the Metro newspaper said on its front page, with many lawmakers wondering if he had already secured the support of 100 lawmakers. By Sunday, just over 50 had said they would support Johnson.

Sunak garnered national attention when, at 39, he became Johnson’s finance minister just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit Britain, where he developed the successful vacation scheme.

If selected, the former Goldman Sachs analyst would be the UK’s first Indian-born prime minister.

His family immigrated to Britain in the 1960s, a period when many former British colonies moved into the country to help rebuild after World War II.

After graduating from Oxford, he went to Stanford University where he met his wife, Akshata Murthy, and her father, Indian billionaire NR Narayana Murthy, founder of the outsourcing giant Infosys.

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Writing by Kate Holton, Additional reporting by Muvija M, William James, Paul Sandle, James Davey; Editing by Angus McSwan and Hugh Lawson

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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