U.K. Live Updates: Sunak Officially Becomes Prime Minister After Meeting King Charles III
LONDON — Rishi Sunak officially became Britain’s 57th prime minister on Tuesday, vowing to fix the mistakes made by his predecessor, Liz Truss, and to regain the trust of British voters after months of political upheaval set off by the ouster of her scandal-scarred predecessor, Boris Johnson.
“I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda,” a somber Mr. Sunak said in his first address as leader in front of 10 Downing Street. Minutes earlier, he met King Charles III at Buckingham Palace and formally became the country’s fifth prime minister in six years. “That work begins immediately.”
President Biden offered his congratulations to Rishi Sunak. “Together, I look forward to enhancing our cooperation on issues critical to global security and prosperity, including continuing our strong support for Ukraine,” he posted on Twitter.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, congratulated Rishi Sunak. “In these testing times for our continent, we count on a strong relationship with the U.K. to defend our common values, in full respect of our agreements,” she wrote on Twitter. Although the European Union and Britain have been at odds over Brexit, both have fully supported Ukraine since Russia invaded.
The leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, has tweeted his congratulations to Rishi Sunak on becoming prime minister and “making history” as the “first British Asian” leader. But he also accused the Conservative party of having “crashed the economy” and reiterated his calls for a general election.
LONDON — Prime Minister Liz Truss walked out of the doors of No. 10 Downing Street to address Britain for the final time on Tuesday with a smile, appearing composed and defiant.
The speech, a recap of her government’s changes during her six-week tenure in the country’s top job, was short and to the point.
A quick check-in with the markets. The pound was slightly stronger against the dollar on Tuesday lunchtime, trading above $1.13, while government bond yields were lower again. The yields on 10-year bonds, a measure of government borrowing costs, were at 3.68 percent. Investors appear to be taking Rishi Sunak’s premiership in their stride, and after the reversal of nearly all of Liz Truss’s tax plans, the pound has recovered its losses from the past few weeks and government bonds yields have come down notably. One of Mr. Sunak’s first jobs as prime minister is to retain this calm in financial markets as he lays out his own economic agenda.
As Rishi Sunak begins his new job this week, he will face the striking dynamic of having three former prime ministers, all of whom served in the last three years, looking over his shoulder from his party’s backbenches in Parliament.
The sight of so many former leaders in Parliament offers a tableau of the Conservative Party’s inner turmoil, and the upheaval it has caused in Britain’s governing system. It also creates a strange working environment for Mr. Sunak as he becomes the latest party member to take the reins.
In his first address as Britain’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak vowed on Tuesday to lead a government of “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.” Here is his speech in full:
Underscoring the gravity of the moment, Mr. Sunak dispensed with some of the customs of a Downing Street transition. He did not assemble a crowd of supporters to cheer him, and he appeared without his spouse, Akshata Murty.
Rishi Sunak’s first speech as prime minister didn’t give away any details about how exactly he plans to tackle Britain’s economic woes. He did offer a reminder of his period as chancellor, saying that during the pandemic he did everything he could to protect people and businesses, including introducing the furlough program, which made him popular. But he made it clear that this time support won’t be as generous. “There are always limits,” he said. “More so now than ever.”
A somber but confident statement from Rishi Sunak. He draws a sharp distinction with Liz Truss. “Mistakes were made, not born of ill will or bad intentions,” he adds, but says there were “mistakes nonetheless.” He promises to fix them.
Rishi Sunak’s first address as prime minister acknowledges the difficulties Britain is facing, and the magnitude of the moment. “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,” he said. “All I can say is that I am not daunted.”
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator said Tuesday that Russian forces were performing secret work at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, activity that could shed light on Russia’s claims that Kyiv’s forces are preparing a “provocation” involving a radioactive device.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made an unsubstantiated allegation that Ukraine was preparing to launch a so-called dirty bomb. Shoigu made the charge in calls to his British, French, Turkish and U.S. counterparts over the weekend. Britain, France, and the United States rejected it out of hand as “transparently false.”
Ukraine also dismissed Moscow’s claim as an attempt to distract attention from the Kremlin’s own alleged plans to detonate a dirty bomb, which uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste in an effort to sow terror.
Energoatom, the Ukrainian state enterprise that operates the country’s four nuclear power plants, said Russian forces have carried out secret construction work over the last week at the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.