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AS IT HAPPENED

As it happened: Rishi Sunak confirmed as new UK Prime Minister

The new Prime Minister will appoint a Cabinet this afternoon.

LAST UPDATE | 25 Oct 2022

RISHI SUNAK HAS been appointed as the UK’s latest Prime Minister after being appointed by Britain’s King Charles this morning.

He will now be appointing a new Cabinet as part of efforts to unite the fractious Conservative party.

Sunak won the Tory leadership contest yesterday without a vote being cast after rivals Penny Mordaunt and Boris Johnson dropped out, and will replace Liz Truss in Downing Street today.

Truss tendered her resignation to King Charles this morning and will now return to the backbenches.

Good morning!

It’s a big day across the water as Rishi Sunak travels to Buckingham Palace to be appointed Prime Minister by King Charles.

Sunak will be the third resident of 10 Downing Street this year, after Liz Truss bowed out just 44 days into the job.

Truss will have her final Cabinet meeting at 9am, and is expected to give a farewell speech after. Sunak is expected to give an address at noon.

Members of Truss’s Cabinet are currently filing into Downing St for the meeting. Most are ignoring shouts from journalists about whether they expect to remain in Cabinet under Sunak.

Here’s Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg. He backed Boris Johnson to replace Liz Truss.

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World leaders have congratulated Sunak on his accession to Downing St, including US President Joe Biden, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sunak will be the UK’s first Hindu prime minister, the first of Asian heritage, and the youngest for more than 200 years at the age of 42.

His grandparents were from Punjab state before the Indian subcontinent was divided into two countries, India and Pakistan, in 1947 after British colonial rule ended. His family settled in the UK in the 1960s and he was born in Southampton in 1980.

Biden said at an event in Washington on Monday evening that “it matters” that for the first time a person of colour, who is also the child of Indian immigrants, could rise to the highest political office in the UK.

Sunak is now tasked with building a new Cabinet that might unite a fractious Tory party.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who was brought in to steady Liz Truss’s ailing Government and has been working towards a highly-anticipated Halloween fiscal statement, is widely expected to keep the keys to No 11 to try to stabilise the jittery markets.

rishi-sunak-becomes-new-pm Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt arriving at Downing Street this morning PA PA

Sunak ruled out an early general election demanded by opposition parties as the Tories move onto their third prime minister on the mandate won by Boris Johnson in 2019.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has said the Conservatives “don’t trust the British people”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme, he said people were “furious” about not being given a chance to have their say and that his party would work with “any MP” to push for an election.

Labour has also made repeated calls for an early election.

The front pages of today’s Northern Ireland newspapers have a common theme: Urging Sunak to take action on the Protocol

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Cabinet ministers are leaving Downing Street now, after what appears to be a rather short meeting.

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Liz Truss is to make a statement at 10:15.

Liz Truss told her Cabinet they had “secured some significant achievements” during her short spell as Prime Minister, according to Downing Street.

After her final meeting in charge, No 10 said: “The Prime Minister opened Cabinet by thanking ministers for their support.

“She said that in the short time the Government had been in place they had secured some significant achievements.

“The Prime Minister concluded by saying her time in the role had been a huge privilege and that her successor will have her support as they now build on the important steps already taken by Cabinet to support the country.”

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Truss is giving a speech now.

She says: “It has been a huge honour to be Prime Minister of this great country, in particular to lead the nation in mourning the death of her late Majesty the Queen after 70 years of service, and welcoming the session of His Majesty King Charles the third.”

She adds that “in just a short period, this government has acted urgently and decisively on the side of hard working families and businesses” and took back “energy independence” for the UK.

She also said: “Now more than ever, we must support Ukraine in our brave fight against Putin’s aggression. Ukraine must prevail.”

She wished Rishi Sunak luck and thanked her family, friends and the staff of Downing Street for their support.

Here’s the full speech from Liz Truss:

Liz Truss has arrived at Buckingham Palace with her husband Hugh O’Leary and their daughters for her final audience as Prime Minister with King Charles.

The king and Truss will meet in the palace’s 1844 Room, where she will offer her resignation as Prime Minister.

Her family are expected to join her towards the end of the audience.

Following convention, she will leave the palace via a private route.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “The Right Honourable Elizabeth Truss MP had an Audience of The King this morning and tendered her resignation as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, which His Majesty was graciously pleased to accept.”

Rishi Sunak has arrived at Buckingham Palace for an audience with King Charles.

Charles will invite Sunak to form a government in the king’s name.

We’ve got photos coming in of Rishi Sunak arriving at Buckingham Palace this morning.

rishi-sunak-becomes-new-pm PA PA

Sky News are reporting that Rishi Sunak will appear at the podium outside 10 Downing Street by himself, without either MPs or advisors at his side.

Rishi Sunak has been confirmed as the new UK Prime Minister after meeting with King Charles this morning.

rishi-sunak-becomes-new-pm PA PA

With Rishi Sunak now in place as UK Prime Minister, there is a new podium outside 10 Downing Street.

Sunak has now left Buckingham Palace and is en route back to 10 Downing Street to make a statement.

Sunak_1 Sky News Sky News

Sunak is now speaking at the podium outside 10 Downing Street, saying that the UK is currently facing “a profound economic crisis”.

He says that difficult decisions will need to be made, but promises that he will bring “compassion to the challenges we face today”.

Sunak says that he will deliver the promises the Tories made in their 2019 election manifesto.

In what is a rebuke of Boris Johnson, he says that the mandate the Tories won in 2019 was not from any one individual but the party overall.

This is contrary to what Johnson and his supporters had claimed in recent days.

Sunak added that “mistakes were made” under the premiership of Liz Truss and warned there are “difficult decisions to come”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has sent his congratulations to the new UK Prime Minister, saying that there are close links between Ireland and the UK.

I wish to congratulate Rishi Sunak on his appointment today as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

The close relationship between our two countries is built on shared history, deep cultural and economic ties, and strong people-to-people links.

Our shared responsibility as joint stewards of the Good Friday Agreement, working together in partnership, is vital to support peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland, particularly now in the absence of a properly functioning Assembly and Executive.

Building on work already underway, there is a real opportunity for the EU and UK to find jointly agreed solutions on the issues pertaining to the Protocol, and I urge Prime Minister Sunak to move quickly to substantive engagement with the EU on that basis.

I am committed to a strong and deep British-Irish relationship and I look forward to early engagement with Prime Minister Sunak on the important issues we face on these islands and globally.

On the mistakes made by Liz Truss during her tumultuous times as Prime Minister, Sunak said:

I want to pay tribute to my predecessor, Liz Truss.

She was not wrong to want to improve growth in this country – it is a noble aim.

I admired her restlessness to create change – but some mistakes were made.

Not born of ill-will or bad intention – quite the opposite in fact.

But mistakes, nonetheless.

I have been elected as leader of my party and your Prime Minister, in part to fix them.

And that work begins immediately.

A few photos of Sunak outside 10 Downing Street this morning.

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rishi-sunak-becomes-new-pm PA PA

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has congratulated Sunak on becoming the latest resident of 10 Downing Street.

In a tweet, Johnson says that Conservatives need to give their new PM “their full and wholehearted support”.

In his speech, Sunak said that he was “not daunted” by the challenges ahead, adding that he will work to “restore trust” in the UK Government following a tumultuous few weeks.

I fully appreciate how hard things are and I understand too that I have work to do to restore trust after all that has happened.

All I can say is that I am not daunted. I know the high office I have accepted and I hope to live up to its demands.

But when the opportunity to serve comes along, you cannot question the moment, only your willingness. So, I stand here before you ready to lead our country into the future.

To put your needs above politics, to reach out and build a Government that represents the very best traditions of my party.

Together, we can achieve incredible things. We will create a future worthy of the sacrifices so many have made and fill tomorrow, and every day thereafter, with hope.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has congratulated Sunak:

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has also tweeted her congratulations:

More snaps of Sunak coming in as he goes into 10 Downing Street, with Larry the cat poised in the background…

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britain-politics Frank Augstein / PA Frank Augstein / PA / PA

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Sunak is expected to begin his Cabinet reshuffle this afternoon, a Government source has told the PA news agency.

Sky News is reporting that Jacob Rees-Mogg has resigned his government position of Business and Energy Secretary.

He backed Boris Johnson to replace Liz Truss.

A source close to Jacob Rees-Mogg told the PA news agency: “He knows he was very close to the previous two regimes and it didn’t seem likely he was going to be appointed in the new Cabinet.

“He’s happy to support the Prime Minister from the backbenches.”

Brandon Lewis has resigned as Justice Secretary, according to the Guardian.

Lewis was Northern Ireland Secretary under Boris Johnson.

Michael Ellis, the Attorney General, has entered the corridor leading to the Prime Minister’s parliamentary office as Rishi Sunak is expected to carry out a Cabinet reshuffle.

Former Cabinet minister Gavin Williamson, who supported Sunak, left the corridor with the PM’s office shortly before Ellis arrived.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has congratulated Sunak on becoming Britain’s first prime minister of Asian heritage – but repeated his calls for a general election.

Brandon Lewis’s resignation letter:

Wendy Morton has revealed she is no longer chief whip and is returning to the backbenches under Rishi Sunak’s new government.

She tweeted: “Heading to the back benches from where I will continue to represent the constituents, businesses and communities of Aldridge-Brownhills.”

It comes almost a week after Morton’s status as chief whip was in the balance amid speculation she had resigned over the fracking vote in the Commons last Wednesday, only for Downing Street to insist she remained in the post hours later.

britain-politics Alberto Pezzali / PA Alberto Pezzali / PA / PA

Labour chair Anneliese Dodds MP has said she thought many voters will have been “very upset” by the words of Liz Truss’s outgoing speech this morning at Downing Street.

The shadow women and equalities secretary told PA news agency: “I think many people in the country will be very upset actually by the words of the former prime minister.”

She said there was “no acknowledgement of the depth of the economic damage done” under Truss’s leadership in either her speech or that delivered by Rishi Sunak.

Dodds added: “Rishi Sunak can’t be the answer when the problem is the Conservative Party.

“We need to have a general election to deliver the fresh start that our country is crying out for.”

sunday-morning PA PA

Sunak ally Huw Merriman has said he would not be “at all surprised” to see Jeremy Hunt stay on as Chancellor.

The senior Tory MP also said Government may be “more boring” under the stewardship of the new Prime Minister but he thinks “that’s what people want”, as “we’ve had enough excitement”.

Merriman told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme he could not confirm whether Hunt will keep his job.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has rowed back on comments he made about Rishi Sunak being a socialist, saying he would serve in Sunak’s government if asked

During the last Tory leadership contest, Rees-Mogg described Sunak as the “much-lamented socialist chancellor” who had put up taxes during the coronavirus pandemic.

And he accused Sunak of “disloyalty” to Boris Johnson, with many Conservatives blaming the new leader for bringing down the old one by resigning as chancellor.

Now, Rees-Mogg backed down, telling the Telegraph he would now serve in Sunak’s government if asked.


Asked about the “socialist” charge, the MP replied: “That was said in the run-up to the leadership campaign, under very different circumstances.

“The leader of the Conservative Party is clearly not a socialist.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Chloe Smith has said she will be supporting Sunak from the backbenches.

She wrote on Twitter: “It has been a privilege to serve as the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and I would like to thank all of the brilliant staff at @DWP for their dedication to helping people into work and protecting the most vulnerable.

“I look forward to supporting @RishiSunak from the backbenches & continuing to work hard for my constituents in Norwich North.”

Junior Minister Vicky Ford has announced she has left her role in the Foreign Office.

Education secretary Kit Malthouse is out, a source close to the MP told the PA news agency.

More senior Tories on the way out: Jake Berry has said he has left his position as Conservative Party chairman.

Robert Buckland said he is leaving as Welsh secretary at his request.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has welcomed the significance of the first Prime Minister of British-Asian origin taking the reins in No 10 at a meeting of his shadow cabinet on Tuesday.

But he criticised Rishi Sunak’s politics, insisting he will “not deliver for working people”.

A readout of the meeting stated: “The Labour leader said that Rishi Sunak has only ever fought one leadership election battle his entire life and ‘got thrashed’ by Liz Truss. And no wonder he doesn’t want to fight a general election.”

keir-starmer-phone-in-on-lbc PA PA

The readout said Starmer claimed Sunak can be “ruthless”, telling his top team: “Rishi Sunak stabbed Boris Johnson in the back when he thought he could get his job. And in the same way, he will now try and disown the Tory record of recent years and recent months and pretend that he is a new broom.

“But he was also the chancellor who left Britain facing the lowest growth of any developed country, the highest inflation and millions of people worried about their bills. And now he plans to make working people pay the price for the Tories’ crashing the economy.”

The Guardian has more detail at what went on at that meeting, if you’re interested

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has described his nation’s partnership with the UK as “one of the strongest relationships between any two countries in the world” as he congratulated Rishi Sunak on becoming Prime Minister.

“Canada’s partnership with the United Kingdom, one of the strongest relationships between any two countries in the world, is defined by our rich shared history, our close friendship, and an unwavering commitment to human rights, democracy, and the rules-based international order,” Trudeau said in a statement, which you can read in full here.

“Together, we will remain focused on creating good middle-class jobs and opportunities for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, while driving economic growth that benefits everyone.

Environment secretary Ranil Jayawardena has said he is leaving his role as he knows Rishi Sunak wants “a new team”.

The SNP has failed in a surprise bid to make the House of Commons sit in private as a protest to Rishi Sunak’s appointment as Prime Minister.

David Linden (Glasgow East), raising a point of order, told the Commons: “Earlier today His Majesty the King appointed the second unelected Prime Minister in seven weeks for these islands.

“Given that this Government has no democratic legitimacy over Scotland, I invoke standing order 163 and beg to move that the House do sit in private.”

Commons Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing replied: “(He) takes the House by surprise. He has moved the motion that the House do now sit in private. I am obliged to put the question forthwith.”

Linden’s private sitting proposal was rejected by 39 votes to 240, majority 201.

Simon Clarke, who was chief secretary to the Treasury under Rishi Sunak when he was chancellor, indicated he is out of the role of levelling-up secretary.

He tweeted: “It has been a great privilege to serve as Secretary of State, working alongside some terrific people to #LevelUp our communities, just as it was before that as Chief Secretary.”

We’re going to leave it there as Sunak’s first day as PM goes on, but keep an eye on The Journal for more stories on the new Tory leader, and for reactions from Westminster and beyond.

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