Rishi Sunak is set to become Britain’s first prime minister of colour today, Tuesday, after he won the race to lead the Conservative Party, tasked with steering a deeply divided country through an economic downturn set to leave millions of people poorer.
One of the wealthiest politicians in Westminster, Sunak, 42, will become the country’s youngest leader in modern times – and its third in less than two months – as he takes over during one of the most turbulent eras in British political history. He replaces Liz Truss, who only lasted 44 days before she said she would resign, needing to restore stability to a country reeling from years of political and economic turmoil and seeking to lead a party that has fractured along ideological lines.
Sunak was the only leadership hopeful to secure the support of 100 Conservative members of parliament, the necessary threshold set by party officials for potential candidates. He will become the first person of colour to lead the UK – and at the age of 42, he is also the youngest person to take the office in more than 200 years.
He told his lawmakers in parliament yesterday that they faced an “existential crisis” and must “unite or die”. He also told the country it faced a “profound economic challenge”.
Sunak, who will be appointed Prime Minister by King Charles, will also have to work hard to hold Britain’s dominant political party together after some accused him of treachery earlier this year when he resigned from the cabinet of former leader Boris Johnson, triggering his downfall too.