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New King; new Prime Minister- how will it go for Britain?

The United Kingdom this week had Rishi Sunak as its new Prime Minister after the dramatic resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister The former chancellor won a Conservative Party leadership contest.

Liz Truss resigned just after 44 days in office. She assumed office as the 77th Prime Minister and was the third female British Prime Minister after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. She was also Britain’s fourth Prime Minister in six years. 

Prime Minister

Her short premiership was one of severe turbulence within the economic and political space. Volatile markets, a baseless economy, and sharp division within her party continue to be the order of the day. She has led a very divided political party while at the same time she is faced with a tough opposition in parliament that calls each passing day for general elections.

She reckoned in her resignation speech, she came into office at a time of great economic and international instability. “Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills. Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our whole continent. And our country had been held back for too long by low economic growth.”

There had always been intra and inter-party confusion amidst the high level of economic uncertainty. In her first major move as prime minister, the government announced its Mini Budget on 23 September, in which former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced sweeping tax cuts without clear funding or a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility. This led to gilt yields skyrocketing and the pound plummeting to the lowest level against the dollar in history.

He assumes office at a time when Britain faces serious economic challenges and needs stability and unity which are blamed on the previous two prime ministers, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. For Sunak they did their best just that “some mistakes were made – not born of ill will or bad intentions. Quite the opposite. But mistakes, nonetheless. And I have been elected as leader of my party and your prime minister, in part to fix them.”

He is the third prime minister in two months and the party’s fifth Conservative Party leader since the Brexit referendum of 2016. Rishi Sunak, a former chancellor of the exchequer, was declared the new leader of the Conservative Party on October 24th. He is the 78th prime minister.

Sunak is fairly and relatively new in politics having been elected to the House of Commons for Richmond in North Yorkshire during the 2015 general election after Willian Hague had stepped down. He was a big supporter of the 2016 European Union membership referendum and was then appointed as Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for Local government.

After the resignation of Theresa May, Sunak supported Boris Johnson’s campaign to become Conservative leader. Johnson, winning the prime minister position, then appointed Sunak as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Who later replaced Sajid Javid as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Sunak as Chancellor proved himself so worthy of the position especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the pragmatic government’s financial response to the pandemic and its economic impact. His approach to Coronavirus Job retention and Eat Out to Help Out schemes was deemed a phenomenon.

He resigned some there months ago when with his boss, Boris Johnson amid severe crises in the government. His attempt to replace Johnson during the Conservative party leadership contest hit the rocks and he lost to Liz Truss.

His dream of becoming the prime minister of Britain was rekindled when Truss resigned last week. He won the contest and as per the conventional constitution, Sunak was appointed Prime Minister by King Charles 111 on Tuesday, 25 October 2022, becoming the first British of Indian descent and a Hindu Prime Minister. He is the first to be given constitutional powers by the new king, King Charles 111.

King Charles will by convention have a weekly audience with Prime Minister Sunak. This is hoped to be fruitful for the development of the country as the prime minister has promised. He is coming into office as the youngest prime minister working within one of the oldest monarchies in the world headed by King Charles 11. King Charles is the head of a system in which supreme authority is vested in the monarch, he acts as an individual ruler who functions as head of state. He typically acts as a political-administrative organisation

Although he has Sovereignty, he has no political or executive role, he continues to play an important part in the life of the nation. He is the Head of State and therefore undertakes constitutional and representational duties which have developed over one thousand years of history. He also retains a unique legal and ceremonial role but exercises limited or no political power under a constitution.

The Monarchy is arguably important in the democratic matters of the country as it acts as a focus for national identity, unity and pride. Over the years the Monarchy gives a sense of stability and continuity, officially recognises success and excellence; and supports the ideal of voluntary service.

The new king, King Charles 111, who is on the throne now, reigns but does not necessarily rule. This is because the ruling is done by his government headed by Sunik, and as head of state in the UK, King Charles 111 is constitutionally obliged to follow the government’s advice. His main functions as head of state are to appoint the Prime Minister, to open new sessions of parliament; and to give royal assent to bills passed by parliament, signifying that they have become law. King Charles has just performed only one of such 15 duties of appointing prime ministers of her later mother and predecessor.

Mr Sunak does not promise a transformational programme. His major task now is to salvage Britain’s fiscal credibility, suppress inflation and end the cycle of crisis that has consumed the Conservative Party. Ukraine and Russian conflict will engage him for some time. He is faced with steering a deeply divided country through an economic downturn set to make millions of people poorer.

Importantly, he must reassure the markets while keeping a fractious Tory party under control He reckoned in his speech after the election “There is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge,” Sunak said. “We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together.”

Taking office at the age of 42, the youngest prime minister of the UK in about 200 years, Sunak has demonstrated a strong commitment to fixing what I agreed to be very difficult moments for the people of Britain but he says the people of today must not leave behind any dept for future generation to pay that current generation was so weak to pay and promised to work towards this.

The new prime minister and a former finance minister during the COVID-19 era then referenced his work during COVID and the furlough scheme, which saved businesses.

He noted “You saw me during COVID doing everything I could to protect people and businesses with schemes like furlough, and promised to bring the same compassion to the challenges ahead.

The young and enterprising politician has taken the mantle and promised to deliver like all his predecessors. Time will tell.

By Nana Sifa Twum (PHD)

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