Rishi Sunak has warned of “difficult decisions” ahead as his government grapples with a “profound economic crisis”, in his first speech as prime minister. He said he had been elected as Tory leader to “fix” the “mistakes” made by his predecessor, Liz Truss.
Mr Sunak promised to deliver the manifesto that won the Conservatives a landslide election victory in 2019.
His speech outside No 10 came after he was appointed PM by King Charles.
The UK’s first British Asian prime minister, Mr Sunak is expected to announce his cabinet this afternoon, after telling Tory MPs to unify or face electoral oblivion. A large majority of those MPs backed him for the leadership and when his only remaining rival Penny Mordaunt withdrew, there was no need for a ballot of Tory members.
Mr Sunak’s effective coronation as Tory leader on Monday spelled the end of Ms Truss’s turbulent premiership, just 49 days after she took office.
Ms Truss became prime minister after defeating Mr Sunak in a ballot of Tory members during the summer, winning over members with her tax-cutting economic agenda. But her government was destabilised by political and economic turmoil, exacerbated by her mini-budget, whose package of unfunded tax cuts has mostly been ditched.
In his speech, Mr Sunak paid tribute to his predecessors Boris Johnson and Ms Truss, saying she “was not wrong to want to improve growth in this country – it is a noble aim”.
“But some mistake were made,” Mr Sunak said. “Not born of ill will or bad intentions, quite the opposite, in fact. But mistakes nonetheless. “I have been elected as leader of the party and as prime minister in part to fix them. And that work begins immediately.
Mr Sunak – who was chancellor until July this year – said he would place “economic componence and stability at the heart of this government’s agenda”, warning that “will mean difficult decisions to come”.