Rishi Sunak to meet King Charles before taking over as prime minister on Tuesday

New Tory leader promises to lead with ‘integrity and humility’ amid ‘profound economic challenges’

Rishi Sunak will meet King Charles on Tuesday morning before taking over as prime minister, the British government has announced.

Mr Sunak is set to be appointed as prime minister after his last remaining rival in the race, Penny Mordaunt, failed to win the required backing of 100 MPs, which she needed to bring the contest to a second stage.

The former chancellor of the exchequer was the only candidate to have reached the threshold set by Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs.

The announcement was made by Mr Brady outside Committee Room 14 at the Houses of Parliament shortly after 2pm on Monday.


Ms Mordaunt had conceded minutes earlier that she had not reached the 100 threshold.

The British government has outlined that Mr Sunak will travel to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday and meet King Charles after Liz Truss has chaired a final meeting of her cabinet at 9am, after which she will make a speech outside Downing Street. She will then go to Buckingham Palace for an audience with the king. Afterwards, Mr Sunak will go and meet the king, where he will be asked to form a government. The new prime minister will then give a speech outside Number 10 at about 11.35am.

In a public address on Monday afternoon, Mr Sunak promised to serve with “integrity and humility” and acknowledged the “profound economic challenges” Britain is facing. He paid tribute to Ms Truss for her leadership, saying she served “under exceptionally difficult circumstances”, and said he was humbled to have been elected leader of the Conservative party. It was the greatest privilege of his life “to be able to serve the party I love and give back to the country I owe so much to”, he said.

“But there is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge. We now need stability and unity. And I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together. Because that is the only way we will overcome the challenges we face and build a better, more prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren. 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.”

In her concession statement, Ms Mordaunt said: “These are unprecedented times. Despite the compressed timetable for the leadership contest it is clear that colleagues feel we need certainty today. They have taken this decision in good faith for the good of the country.

“Members should know that this proposition has been fairly and thoroughly tested by the agreed 1922 process. 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. Rishi has my full support.”

At 42 years old, the MP for Richmond in York is the youngest British prime minister in more than years and is the first person of colour to be elected to that office. Of Indian and Hindu heritage, Mr Sunak was confirmed as the new prime minister on Diwali, of the Festival of Light, one of the most important dates in the Hindu calendar.

He was chancellor of the exchequer in Boris Johnson’s government but fell out with the then prime minister over infractions surrounding lockdown parties in Number 10, as well as other issues.

He came second to Ms Truss in the leadership contest held during the summer. He won the support of more MPs but could only command 42 per cent of the vote in the ballot of party membership. He was an early critic of Ms Truss’s economic policies, saying her growth strategy would lead to the economy being crippled.

Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt has also come out in recent days to back Mr Sunak. He is expected to continue in the role and announce what is expected to be a tough economic statement on October 31st.

Mr Sunak had gathered public support from almost 200 of the 357 Tory MPs by the time the 2pm deadline had passed, compared with only 30 who had publicly declared support for Ms Mordaunt.

Following the withdrawal of Mr Johnson on Sunday evening from the leadership race, Ms Mordaunt and her team began an intensive campaign to reach the threshold of 100.

On Monday morning, Ms Mordaunt and her supporters were claiming that her numbers had reached “north of 90″ with frantic efforts to get the extra 10 endorsements that she needed for the second round, which would have been a vote conducted among the party’s membership of 150,000.

However, while she had hoped that many supporters of Mr Johnson would switch their allegiance, only two MPs publicly endorsed the Portsmouth MP on Monday.

In a setback for her campaign, one of Ms Mordaunt’s early backers, Tory MP George Freeman, dramatically withdrew his nomination for her at lunchtime on Monday, saying that the country needed a stable government urgently and he was now backing Mr Sunak.

Mr Johnson claimed he had 102 pledges of support at the time he retired from the contest on Sunday night. According to reports, the 1922 committee confirmed that Mr Johnson did have sufficient nominations by the time he withdrew from the race on Sunday night.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times