LONDON (AP) — Former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak won the race to be leader of the Conservative Party on Monday and will become Britain’s next prime minister — the third this year.
The former Treasury chief will be Britain’s first leader of color, and faces the task of stabilizing the party and country at a time of economic and political turbulence.
His only rival, Penny Mordaunt, conceded and withdrew.
As leader of the governing party, he will take over as prime minister from Liz Truss, who quit last week after 45 tumultuous days in office.
Sunak had been the strong favorite as the governing Conservative Party sought stability at a time of immense economic challenges and after months of chaos that consumed the past two leaders.
Sunak’s position strengthened after former leader Boris Johnson dropped out of the Conservative Party leadership contest. The party is choosing Britain’s third prime minister this year following Liz Truss’ resignation after a turbulent 45-day term.
Sunak lost out to Truss in the last Conservative election, but his party and the country now appear eager for a safe pair of hands to tackle soaring energy and food prices and a looming recession. The politician steered the economy through the coronavirus pandemic, winning praise for his financial support for laid-off workers and shuttered businesses.
He has promised “integrity, professionalism and accountability” if he forms a government — a nod to the growing to desire for a leader who can tackle the country’s problems.
Earlier in the day, the 42-year-old was the only candidate with confirmed support from more than 100 lawmakers, the number needed to run in the election, with his backers claiming he has been endorsed by more than half the 357 Conservative lawmakers in Parliament. Mordaunt had hoped to reach the threshold by the time nominations closed — but she backed out.
That means Sunak is now the Conservative Party leader and will be asked by King Charles III to form a government. He will become the prime minister in a handover of power from Truss later Monday or on Tuesday.