Samuel Bolaji with agency report
Rishi Sunak has emerged the new Leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party.
According to an announcement made by Sir Graham Brady, only one nomination was received by the 1922 Committee for the new leader of the party, and backed by 100 MPs.
Sir Brady, therefore, declared Sunak to be the next party leader, and consequently the new Prime Minister.
He confirmed that the new Tory leader Rishi Sunak will address MPs at 14:30 BST.
Earlier, one of the contenders for the UK top job, Penny Mordaunt, had announced her withdrawal from the race, leaving Sunak as the sole candidate for the position.
Mordaunt, in a statement, said, “Our Party is our membership. Whether we are elected representatives, activists, fundraisers or supporters. We all have a stake in who our leader is.
“These are unprecedented times. 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.
“Members should know that this proposition has been fairly and thoroughly tested by the agreed 1922 process.
“As a result, we have now chosen our next Prime Minister. This decision is an historic one and shows, once again, the diversity and talent of our party. Rishi has my full support.
“I am proud of the campaign we ran and grateful to all those, across all sides of our party, who gave me their backing. We all owe it to the country, to each other and to Rishi to unite and work together for the good of the nation. There is much work to be done.”
Triumph for 42-year-old Sunak came after Johnson’s decision late Sunday to abandon his political comeback bid.
Just weeks after he lost out to Liz Truss to lead the ruling Tories, Sunak, therefore, pulled off a stunning reversal in fortunes.
Addressing members of his party behind closed doors after the announcement, Sunak reportedly received a rapturous reception.
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon, whose nationalist government in Edinburgh wants to hold an independence referendum next year, was among the first to congratulate Sunak.
“I wish him well… notwithstanding our political differences,” she said.
“That he becomes the first British Asian — indeed the first from any minority ethnic background — to become PM is a genuinely significant moment,” she said.
– Abrupt end to contest –
The contest, triggered by outgoing leader Truss’s resignation on Thursday, had required candidates to secure the support of at least 100 Conservative MPs by 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Monday.
Only Sunak made the threshold, Brady announced.
Sunak, a wealthy Hindu descendant of immigrants from India and East Africa, had crossed that threshold by Friday night, and amassed nearly 200 public nominations — more than half the parliamentary Tory party.
Johnson’s withdrawal from the race — before he had even formally announced his candidacy — left cabinet member Mordaunt the only other declared contender.
However, she failed to garner the necessary support, putting an abrupt end to the contest.
– ‘First British Asian PM’ –
Sunak’s victory came on the day Hindus worldwide mark the start of the five-day festival of Diwali — a celebration of the victory of good over evil.
When he was chancellor of the exchequer, in November 2020, Sunak marked the occasion by lighting oil lamps on the front step of the chancellor’s official residence at 11 Downing Street.
The Tories were forced into their second leadership contest since the summer due to Truss’s resignation after only 44 days following a disastrous market response to her tax-slashing mini-budget.
Truss — who pledged Sunak her “full support” — had replaced Johnson in early September following a government revolt led by Sunak over a slew of scandals, most notably the “Partygate” controversy involving Covid lockdown-breaching parties.
Johnson’s attempt to make an immediate return to Downing Street had raised the prospect of months of disarray and disunity within the ruling Conservatives.
Critical backbench Tory MPs warned there could have been a wave of resignations under Johnson’s renewed leadership, which might have led to the general election demanded by opposition parties. One is not due for at least two years.
Johnson had cut short a Caribbean holiday to return to Britain on Saturday.
But in a sign of his diminished political standing, Johnson swiftly conceded late Sunday, admitting “you can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament”.
“I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time,” he said, while insisting he had secured the 100 nominations needed to progress.
Sunak was quick to pay tribute to Johnson, tweeting: “I truly hope he continues to contribute to public life at home and abroad.”