Rishi Sunak has pledged to run No10 with ‘integrity and humility’ after becoming the new UK’s prime minister.
Mr Sunak delivered the message after being confirmed as the next PM when his sole remaining rival Penny Mordaunt failed to make the threshold of 100 nominations needed to trigger a run-off.
Speaking to a camera at Conservative HQ, Mr Sunak said the UK is a ‘great country’ and vowed to work ‘day in and day out’, but pointed to serious economic problems.
Earlier, the new premier received a rapturous reception when he made a 10-minute private speech to MPs at Parliament, telling his troops that Mr Johnson, Ms Mordaunt and Ms Truss were ‘all good Conservative colleagues and friends’, adding: ‘We’re united behind the policy and now cannot afford the indulgence of division over personality.
According to one MP present he said: ‘We have one chance. It is unite or die.’
The new development comes just seven weeks after he was defeated by Liz Truss in the struggle to succeed Mr Johnson.
Mr Sunak is expected to be formally installed as PM by King Charles tomorrow.
One of his first tasks will be to form a new Cabinet that can unite the warring party, with Jeremy Hunt set to continue as Chancellor – a week before he delivers a crucial Halloween Budget – and speculation that Ms Mordaunt could become Foreign Secretary.
Ms Truss congratulated Mr Sunak on his ‘appointment’ this afternoon, saying he had her ‘full support’.
Mr Sunak received public backing from over 190 Tory MPs – well over half the total – racking up more numbers as prominent supporters of Mr Johnson jumped on the bandwagon. They included senior figures such as James Cleverly, Brandon Lewis, Simon Clarke, Iain Duncan Smith, Priti Patel, and Nadhim Zahawi.
Mr Sunak will be the country’s first non-white premier, and at 42 the youngest since the Napoleonic Wars.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the new leader had made it clear that getting the economy moving was ‘critical’
Asked if Mr Sunak had an ‘impossible task’ leading a divided party, Sir Iain added: ‘I think today will have brought that to an end. It is not ungovernable, if it chooses to be.
‘But looking at the response inside there today I think people are relieved, they want to get behind the PM and we have to do it. There is no other choice.
‘So I don’t think there is a need for an election, I don’t want one now, I want us to deliver on what we said we would do and then go to the polls at the normal time.’