UK Treasury chief Rishi Sunak formally took office as British Prime Minister on Tuesday, October 25th, following the traditional appointment by King Charles III.
He takes over from Liz Truss, whose short-lived tenure was marked by serious financial fallouts caused by large tax cuts and a well-padded household energy subsidy. Indeed, the new prime minister comes in at a time when the UK is undergoing crises in both the political and economic spheres.
Addressing the nation for the first time, Sunak warned that the country was facing what he referred to as a profound economic crisis compounded by stagflation and the fact that it has had three prime ministers in the span of seven weeks.
On top of his new assignment, Sunak was also thrust into the leadership of the Conservative Party, which took several sharp blows over the past several months. To steady the shaken organization, Sunak appointed legislators from several opposing groups within the party to key positions in the government to establish a sense of unity.
A Litany of Woes
Many political observers note that Sunak has his work cut out for him. He inherited the leadership of the Conservative Party, which, since 1834, is considered the world’s oldest political franchise – one whose success has lain in its ability to adapt to the changing times. However, this willingness to change has also led to the party’s current fractured state for the full twelve years that it has been the majority in Parliament.
When David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, the socially liberal yet fiscally conservative PM’s government tried to rebuild the UK economy in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008. His successor Theresa May, on the other hand, tried to push the country into social conservatism following Brexit in 2016.
Boris Johnson came into power after May and drove the nation aggressively post-Brexit, resulting in a period of high taxes and a restive public. His successor, Liz Truss, came in just before the passing of Elizabeth II and did the nation more harm than good by trying to shift the economy towards free markets.
Sunak is expected to circle back to Cameron’s economic ethos by alleviating deficits. At the same time, the new prime minister will also cast the spotlight on pressing issues like climate change and how it affects the UK and its people.
An Unexpected Pioneer
Sunak, a former hedge-fund manager, made history as the first Hindu and person of color to take the top post in the British government.
At just 42 years old, he is also the youngest to take the post in nearly 200 years. However, his relative youth is not seen as a bar to the massive workload he faces, as many believe he will be utilizing much of his expertise in the financial sector to find ways to alleviate the current crises.