Rishi Sunak becomes British prime minister after rivals quit

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Rishi Sunak becomes British prime minister after rivals quit

Rishi Sunak has become British prime minister on Monday after other candidates quit the race to lead the Conservative Party, leaving him with the task of steering a deeply divided country through an economic downturn that will leave millions of people poorer.

Sunak, one of the wealthiest politicians in Westminster, will be asked by King Charles to form a government, replacing Liz Truss, the outgoing leader who only lasted 44 days in office.

He defeated centrist politician Penny Mordaunt, who failed to get enough backing from lawmakers to enter the ballot, while his rival, former prime minister Boris Johnson, withdrew from the contest, saying he could no longer unite the party.

This decision shows the diversity and talent of our party once again and again. Mordaunt said that Rishi has full support and that she withdrew from the race just minutes before the winner was due to be announced.

The pound and British government bond prices went up briefly on news of Mordaunt's withdrawal, but soon returned to their previous levels.

Sunak, the 42-year-old former finance minister, becomes Britain's third prime minister in less than two months, tasked with restoring stability to a country reeling from years of political and economic turmoil.

The multi-millionaire hedge fund boss is expected to launch deep spending cuts to try to rebuild Britain's fiscal reputation, just as the country falls into a recession, dragged down by the rising cost of energy and food.

Britain has been locked in a state of permacrisis ever since it voted to leave the EU in 2016, sparking a battle at Westminster over the future of the country that remains unresolved to this day.

The latest bout of drama has drawn dismay in foreign capitals and ridicule from the world's press.

Sunak came to national attention when he became finance minister under Johnson just as the Covid-19 epidemic hit Britain, developing the successful furlough scheme.

The former Goldman Sachs analyst will be the first prime minister of Indian descent in the United Kingdom.

His family migrated to Britain in the 1960s, a period when many people from Britain's former colonies moved to the country to help rebuild after World War II.

After graduating from Oxford University, he went to Stanford University where he met his wife Akshata Murthy whose father is Indian billionaire N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder of outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd.