Rishi Sunak was assured of taking over as the next prime minister of the United Kingdom as his rival Penny Mordaunt announced her withdrawal from the race minutes before nominations closed on Monday evening Indian time.
Soon after, Sunak was announced as the leader of the Conservative Party, reported BBC. Sunak will be the first British Asian to become the prime minister of the United Kingdom and the second person to be appointed to the post in less than two months. At 42, he will also be the youngest British prime minister ever.
Sunak, born to Indian immigrants, garnered the support of 193 MPs, while his Conservative Party rival Penny Mordaunt got the backing of only 26 MPs before she announced her withdrawal, according to the BBC.
Each candidate required the support of at least 100 MPs to remain in the contest.
“These are unprecedented times,” Mordaunt said in a statement. “Despite the compressed timetable for the leadership contest it is clear that colleagues feel we need certainty today. They have taken this decision in good faith for the good of the country...Rishi has my full support.”
Sunak’s appointment came after the ruling Conservative Party was forced to conduct another leadership contest following the resignation of Liz Truss on October 20.
Truss was criticised for her handling of the country’s economy and a rebellion within her own outfit about her authority. She remained in office for only 45 days.
On Sunday, Sunak’s position strengthened after former prime Boris Johnson pulled out of the contest saying that the country and the Conservative Party needed unity.
Ahead of Johnson’s announcement, Sunak had said that the United Kingdom faces a profound economic crisis. “I want to fix our economy, unite our Party and deliver for our country,” he had said in a statement.
The 42-year-old MP and the son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy had resigned as Britain’s finance minister on July 5.
He was among the contenders for the prime minister’s post after Johnson’s resignation in September as well. However, he was defeated by Truss.
‘Need stability and unity’
In his first speech as the leader of the Conservative Party, Sunak on Monday said that the United Kingdom was facing a “profound economic challenge”.
“We now need stability and unity and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together because that is the only way we will overcome the challenges we face and build a better, more prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren,” he said.
Sunak added he was humbled and honoured to become the prime minister of the United Kingdom, adding that his priority would be to bring the country together.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday congratulated Sunak and assured him of her support.
“Rishi [Sunak] will provide the calm, competent, pragmatic leadership our country needs at this deeply challenging time,” she wrote in a tweet.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron also extended his support to Sunak.
“Huge congratulations Rishi Sunak on becoming PM to lead us through challenging times,” Cameron wrote. “I predicted a decade ago that Conservatives would select our first British Indian PM andp roud today that comes to be.”
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Sunak and expressed hope transform “historic ties” between the two countries into a modern partnership.