In his first speech to them as party leader, Rishi Sunak, the future prime minister, warned MPs that the Conservative party is under “existential threat” after Penny Mordaunt fell short of the required 100 nominations to force a vote.
Sunak urged the party to “unite or perish” in his speech to MPs, which was delivered in private. He also vowed to bring the party back to the principles outlined in its 2019 manifesto, which contributed to the party winning an 80-seat majority.
He claimed he will head a government of real Conservative ideals and rule out a quick general election, making resolving the economic crisis his top priority.
Sunak will become prime minister despite not receiving any votes from MPs or members when Mordaunt withdrew from the race, ostensibly admitting that she did not have the required 100 MPs to advance.
Mordaunt tweeted that she had withdrawn two minutes before the nomination process’s 2 p.m. deadline and that Sunak had her “full support.” Boris Johnson, Sunak’s other opponent, withdrew on Sunday night after claiming to have the support of 102 MPs.
Sir Graham Brady, the head of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, made the official announcement of the outcome five minutes after Mordaunt withdrew. I’m able to attest that there is just one legitimate nomination, and Rishi Sunak has been chosen to lead the Conservative party, he added.
Most likely on Tuesday, after meeting the King at Buckingham Palace, Sunak will formally succeed Liz Truss as prime minister. By that time, Truss will have held the position for 50 days. On Monday afternoon, it is believed that the King was returning to London from his Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
By Monday morning, Sunak, the former chancellor who finished second to Truss in the leadership race in the summer, had won the support of more than half of the parliamentary party.
Following his victory, MPs greeted him with rousing applause and desk-bashing. He warned them that the party was under “an existential threat,” citing the strength of the opposition to the Conservatives in surveys, and declared that his attention would be on “issues, not people.”
According to Simon Hoare, a steadfast supporter of Sunak, “he said we could not pretend the prior few weeks and months had been easy, edifying, or useful.” “We are returning to Conservative government’s sober, practical traditions. Going forward was the message that we heard; as a party and as a government, this is about the future and influencing the future. The past cannot be changed. Although the threat we confront is not inescapable, we will play the hand we are dealt.
With a focus on leveling up and the promises of the 2019 platform, Sunak told MPs that his objective was to have a “very productive UK economy.” He added that the party supported low taxes, but that they had to be feasible and reasonable.
He claimed that a “environmentally focused government” would be powered by a stable and prosperous economy that would also deliver on net zero and well-funded health and education services.
The opposition parties would unavoidably call for an early general election, Sunak added, but he understood that this would not happen. He promised to ask the British people for time and space to find solutions to the issues the nation is currently experiencing.
Spending reductions were not promised, but Sunak predicted a “difficult era” for the government. MPs emphasized the need for stability and claimed that they assumed Sunak would ask Jeremy Hunt to continue serving as chancellor. We don’t have time to waste; time is not on our side, added Hoare.
Johnson and Truss’ well-known supporter Iain Duncan Smith argued that it was appropriate that a decision had been reached promptly. It’s time to put a stop to the psychodrama and start running the country, he declared.
It’s time to put an end to personality politics, declared Duncan Smith. He “Sunak” is now aware that we must fulfill our commitments. Stabilizing the economy and getting it moving are his top priorities, followed by all the other things we promised to do, like maximizing the benefits of Brexit and catching up in backward areas.
Sunak will be the first person of color to hold the position of British prime minister; his parents are of Punjabi Indian descent. He is not the first minority ethnic prime minister; Benjamin Disraeli, a Jew who twice held the position between 1868 and 1880, was. The youngest prime minister in more than 200 years is Sunak, who is 42.
Given that he is the third Conservative Prime Minister since Boris Johnson won in 2019, his victory—which was effectively a coronation with not a single formal vote being cast, even by MPs—has rekindled calls for a general election.
Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, declared: “The Tories have appointed Rishi Sunak as prime minister without him giving a single word about how he would run the country or giving anyone the opportunity to vote. Rishi Sunak lacks a mandate and is unaware of the needs of the working class. A general election is necessary so that the British people can vote on the country’s destiny and have the opportunity for a new beginning with Labour.
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey claimed that Tory lawmakers had “installed another out-of-touch prime minister without a plan to undo the harm and without consulting the British people.”
In a statement, Mordaunt, who apparently had roughly 90 nominations left to make, said: “These are extraordinary times. It is obvious that coworkers believe we need assurance right now despite the constrained timeframe for the leadership competition. They made their choice in good faith and for the benefit of the nation.
“Members should be aware that the predetermined 1922 “Committee” process has fairly and thoroughly evaluated this issue. We have just selected our new prime minister as a result. This decision is remarkable and once again demonstrates the talent and variety of our party. Rishi has my complete backing.