Rishi Sunak has given his first speech to the nation since being officially named as Prime Minister. Candidates were required to have the backing of at least 100 Conservative members of Parliament by 2pm today - those who reached this threshold would then go forward into a ballot involving Conservative members.
However Mr Sunak’s closest rival, Penny Mordaunt- pulled out of the race shortly before 2pm leaving the former chancellor with an unopposed path to number 10. This was Sunak’s second attempt at becoming Prime Minister following his defeat by Liz Truss earlier this year.
In a statement, Ms Mordaunt said it was "clear that colleagues feel we need certainty today. They have taken this decision in good faith for the good of the country. As a result, we have now chosen our next prime minister. This decision is an historic one and shows, once again, the diversity and talent of our party."
Former Prime Minister Liz Truss has congratulated Mr Sunak. On Twitter, she wrote: “Congratulations Rishi Sunak on being appointed as Leader of the Conservative Party and our next Prime Minister.
“You have my full support”.
Several ex-cabinet ministers have congratulated Mr Sunak on being named Prime Minister. Sajid Javid, who has chancellor and health secretary on his CV, said: "Congratulations Rishi Sunak on becoming the new leader of the Conservatives. We face huge challenges, but he has the skill and experience to bring the stability we need. Conservatives must unite behind him and deliver for the British people."
Former housing secretary Robert Jenrick added: "Congratulations Rishi Sunak. I couldn’t be prouder of my friend today. He’s won the overwhelming support of the parliamentary party. There are huge challenges ahead, but I have every faith that with him at the helm, the country will succeed."
The stepping back of Ms Mordaunt’s bid came less than 24 hours after former prime minister Boris Johnson, who was rumoured to have also reached the magical 100 number of Tory backers, also dropped out of the race.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon congratulated the new prime minister on Twitter, calling on him to call an early general election and not “unleash” another round of austerity on the country.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner added to those calling for an early general election as she said: “The Tories have crowned Rishi Sunak as prime minister without him saying he would run the country and without anyone having the chance to vote. Rishi Sunak has no mandate and no idea what working people need. We need a general election so the public get a say on the future of Britain – and the chance for a fresh start with Labour.”
Giving a speech in private to Conservatives, Mr Sunak spoke of how it felt to become leader of the nation and his party. He also said how it is important for the party to come together in unity. It was also suggested by the new PM that there will be no early general election.
According to Sky News, Mr Sunak told Conservative MP’s: “We’ve got to unite and come together’ and he promised a ‘a government of all the talents.’
“We’re all on the same page policy wise. The only things that divide us are personalities. That’s an indulgence we can no longer afford.”
Rishi Sunak addresses the nation
In is first publis address as prime minister, Rishi Sunak began by paying tribute to his predecessor Liz Truss before talking about how becoming PM is the “greatest privilege of his life. He said: “The UK is a great country, but there is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge,” adding it will be his “priority” to bring the country together.
“I pledge that I will serve you with integrity and humility and I will work day in day out to deliver for the British people.”
Due to the lack of rival candidates, Mr Sunak has officially become Conservative Party leader. However, he will only become Prime Minister with an official hand over meeting with outgoing PM Liz Truss and King Charles III. This is expected to take place later this month.