Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday he was not daunted by the scale of the challenge as he became Britain’s third prime minister in two months, pledging to restore trust, rebuild confidence and lead the country through an economic crisis.
The 42-year-old former hedge fund boss, who has only been in elected politics for seven years, has been tasked with bringing an end to the infighting and feuding at Westminster that has horrified investors and alarmed international allies.
“I fully appreciate how hard things are,” he said outside the prime minister’s residence at Downing Street where he shunned the normal tradition of standing with his family and political supporters.
“I understand too that I have work to do to restore trust, after all that has happened. All I can say is that I am not daunted. I know the high office I have accepted and I hope to live up to its demands.”
Sunak, one of the richest men in parliament, is expected to slash spending to plug an estimated 40 billion pound ($45 billion) hole in the public finances created by an economic slowdown, higher borrowing costs and a six-month program of support for people’s energy bills.
Economists and investors have said Sunak’s appointment will calm markets, but they warn that he has few easy options when millions are battling a cost-of-living crunch.
“I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda,” he said, shortly after he accepted King Charles’s request to form a government. “This will mean difficult decisions to come.”
Sunak has warned his colleagues they face an “existential crisis” if they do not help to steer the country through the surging inflation and record energy bills that are forcing many households and businesses to cut back spending.
He is expected to retain Jeremy Hunt as finance minister after the former foreign and health secretary helped calm volatile bond markets by ripping up most of Truss’s economic program.
Investors will also want to know if Sunak still plans to publish a new budget alongside borrowing and growth forecasts on October 31, which would help inform the Bank of England’s interest rate decision on November 3. (JerusalemPost)