Rishi Sunak vows to fix ‘mistakes’ of Liz Truss and warns of ‘economic crisis’
The freshly-appointed Conservative leader warned there are “difficult decisions to come” as he made his first speech from Downing Street after meeting the King.
Mr Sunak, 42, is the UK’s first Hindu PM, the first of Asian heritage and the youngest for more than 200 years.
He was appointed Prime Minister by the King after Charles accepted the resignation of Ms Truss after just 49 days in office, making her the shortest-serving leader in history.
Rishi Sunak has said he is determined to “fix” the “mistakes” made by his predecessor Liz Truss.
Speaking on the steps of Downing Street, the new Prime Minister said the country is facing a “profound economic crisis”.
Mr Sunak said Ms Truss was “not wrong” to want to deliver economic growth but that mistakes had been made in doing so.
He said he is “not daunted” by the task ahead of him and stands “ready to lead our country into the future”.
Admitting mistakes were made during his first speech as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak said: “I want to pay tribute to my predecessor, Liz Truss.
“She was not wrong to want to improve growth in this country – it is a noble aim.
“I admired her restlessness to create change – but some mistakes were made.
“Not born of ill-will or bad intention – quite the opposite in fact.
“But mistakes, nonetheless.”
Mr Sunak said “some mistakes were made”, adding: “Not born of ill will, or bad intentions.
“Quite the opposite in fact, but mistakes nonetheless. And I have been elected as leader of my party and your Prime Minister in part to fix them.
“And that work begins immediately. I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this Government’s agenda.
“This will mean difficult decisions to come.
“But you saw me during Covid doing everything I could to protect people and businesses with schemes like furlough.
“There are always limits, more so now than ever. But I promise you this – I will bring that same compassion to the challenges we face today.”
Rishi Sunak’s first speech as prime minister lasted five minutes and 56 seconds – longer than all of the equivalent speeches by prime ministers in recent decades except for Boris Johnson in 2019, who spoke for 11 minutes and 13 seconds.
When Liz Truss made her first speech as prime minister in Downing Street on September 6, she spoke for four minutes and four seconds.
Former Prime Minister Truss made no apologies for the disastrous mini-budget and continued to stand by her tax-cutting ideals, despite being forced to reverse most of her policies when new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was brought in to clear up the mess.
She cited one of Brexit’s benefits as “lower taxes, so people keep more of the money they earn”, before wishing Mr Sunak “every success, for the good of our country”.
In the speech lasting three minutes and seven seconds, Ms Truss quoted Roman philosopher Seneca to say: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”
Ms Truss thanked her family and her short-lived Downing Street team during the speech in front of a relatively small crowd of supporters that included her daughters Frances and Liberty, husband Hugh O’Leary and Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey.
“We continue to battle through a storm but I believe in Britain, I believe in the British people and I know that brighter days lie ahead,” she ended her speech by saying.
The King was “graciously pleased to accept” her resignation, Buckingham Palace said.
Mr Sunak is expected to quickly begin assembling a top team to portray a measure of stability to both the Conservatives and the country.
Long-time backers Dominic Raab, the former justice secretary, Commons Treasury Committee chairman Mel Stride and ex-chief whip Mark Harper have been tipped for jobs.
While not confirmed, Mr Hunt, who replaced Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor amid economic turbulence, is expected to remain at the top of the Treasury.
Mr Hunt has been working towards a highly-anticipated Halloween statement on the Government’s medium-term fiscal plans, complete with independent forecasts.
Mr Sunak has ruled out allowing the early general election demanded by opposition parties as the Tories move on to their third prime minister on the mandate won by Mr Johnson in 2019.