9 December 2023

Rishi Sunak to be next prime minister

Rishi Sunak will become the UK’s next prime minister after rival candidate Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the Conservative leadership race moments before the results were announced.

The former chancellor, who becomes the country’s first British Asian PM, gained the backing of 100 Tory MPs, just seven weeks after losing to Liz Truss in a leadership election.

1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady confirmed that Mr Sunak was the only person to have gained the required number of nominations by the 2pm deadline today.

Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart earlier announced he was backing Mr Sunak after listening to people at his recent street surgery in Hornsea.

He said later: “I would like to congratulate Rishi Sunak on his appointment as Prime Minister. As a highly experienced dhancellor I think he is the best person to get us through the challenges of the near future and work to build an enterprise economy focused on high growth and low taxation.

“I am confident he will give the country the unified, professional, cohesive leadership we all deserve and I will support him in his work to do this.”

In a statement this afternoon, Ms Mordaunt said: “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.”

However, rival parties including Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP, renewed calls for a general election.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey wrote on Twitter: “The Conservatives have trashed our economy, pushed health services to the brink, and added hundreds of pounds to people’s mortgage payments.

“Now Conservative MPs have installed another out-of-touch Prime Minister without giving you a say. We need a General Election NOW.”

Last night, Boris Johnson dramatically ruled himself out of the race after days of speculation.

He said: “In the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.

“And though I have reached out to both Rishi (Sunak) and Penny (Mordaunt) – because I hoped that we could come together in the national interest – we have sadly not been able to work out a way of doing this.

“Therefore I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds.

“I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”