Rishi Sunak, the new British Prime Minister, wants to correct the “mistakes” of his predecessor

His first intervention was eagerly awaited. Rishi Sunak, who became the third British prime minister of the year 2022 on Tuesday October 25, after King Charles III entrusted him with the task of forming a new government, spoke from the steps of 10 Downing Street.

“I will unite our country not with words, but with deeds”, he assured during his first intervention. ” I will put economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s program. This means that difficult decisions will have to be made,” he added.

Fixing Liz Truss’ “Mistakes”

If he wanted to pay tribute to his predecessor, Rishi Sunak pointed out that Liz Truss had made “errors” – certainly, according to him, in good faith and without bad intentions – and that he had been appointed “partly for” fix the situation.

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For the former Chancellor of Boris Johnson, who had to leave the race for his succession in early September, after being beaten by his competitor Liz Truss, this return to grace sounds like revenge. Her predecessor was forced to resign after only seven weeks in power, due to a major financial crisis created by her “mini-budget”. Its policy, mainly based on massive tax cuts, has indeed caused the pound to sway, scare away international investors and drive up interest rates alarmingly.

Mr. Sunak added that he was not “not intimidated” by the magnitude of the task. “We will create a future worth the sacrifices so many have made and fill tomorrow, and every day after, with hope”, he continued. He also said ” aware “ work to be done for “restore trust”he said in an allusion to the scandals under Boris Johnson, to whom he expressed his ” gratitude “.

Reduced room for maneuver

A former banker and finance minister, Rishi Sunak becomes the first British head of government of Indian origin, of Hindu faith, and the first to come from a former British colony. At 42, he is also the youngest prime minister in contemporary British history, after a meteoric rise in politics.

Mr. Sunak is a brexiter, an advocate of free trade and deregulation but without the dogmatism of Liz Truss. In the Chancellery between 2020 and mid-2022, he distinguished himself by his seriousness and his ability to work, and he has to his credit for having saved the economy and the jobs of the British during the pandemic, thanks to a program massive support for businesses.

But his room for maneuver is reduced: he takes the reins of a country facing a serious economic and social crisis. Inflation exceeds 10%, the highest in the G7. Energy prices are soaring, like food prices. The risk of a recession is looming and the markets are firmly awaiting the announcement of drastic cuts in public budgets. By October 31, when an amending budget will be presented, Liz Truss’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt (still in office), must have found between 30 and 40 billion pounds sterling (from 34 to 45 billion euros) of savings.

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Johnson congratulates Sunak

The now new British Prime Minister was quick to receive congratulations from national and international political figures – starting with those of Boris Johnson. “Congratulations to Rishi Sunak on this historic day, tweeted the former leader, known to have had strained relations with Mr. Sunak. Now is the time for every Conservative to give our new Prime Minister their full and complete support. »

“I wish you success in overcoming all the challenges facing British society and the whole world today. I am ready to continue to strengthen the Ukrainian-British strategic partnership together”for his part declared the head of the Ukrainian state, Volodymyr Zelensky, on Twitter. A few hours earlier, in his first speech, Mr Sunak had reiterated British support for Ukraine in the “dreadful war” delivered by Moscow, which must “end with success” for Kyiv.

Emmanuel Macron also addressed his ” congratulations “ to Rishi Sunak. “Together, we will continue to work to face the challenges of the moment, including the war in Ukraine and its multiple consequences for Europe and for the world”wrote the Head of State on Twitter.

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters


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