Rishi Sunak is set to become the third British prime minister in less than two months, after winning the race to lead the ruling Conservative Party.
Sunak was able to forge a clear path to the leadership after former prime minister Boris Johnson – who sensationally stood to return as party leader having only left under a cloud of shame at the start of September – withdrew from the race, while fellow hopeful Penny Mordaunt failed to secure the 100 nominations required from MPs to take the decision to a vote of party members.
The 42-year-old becomes the youngest British leader in the modern era, one year younger than Tony Blair when he took power in 1997. More notably, Sunak is the first person of color to hold the role of British prime minister.
The new prime minister faces a challenging start to his leadership, with the UK facing a cost of living crisis that was only exacerbated by his predecessor Liz Truss, who lasted just 44 days in the role after crashing the pound with her proposed policies.
Sunak additionally finds himself at the helm of a party in disarray, with successive leadership contests and other differences of opinion causing major disunity among Conservative politicians.
Addressing fellow party members in parliament he said they faced an “existential crisis” and must “unite or die”.
“We now need stability and unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together,” Sunak said.
The message may fall on deaf ears for some though, with several Conservative MPs anonymously confirming they were unhappy with the appointment and did not support Sunak.
One of the major concerns from fellow policymakers is that with an estimated net worth of £730 million ($836 million), he will be seen as out of touch by an electorate struggling to cope with a soaring cost of living.