Rishi Sunak to become new PM after challenger Mordaunt drops out of race

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Rishi Sunak to become new PM after challenger Mordaunt drops out of race

UK's first ever Hindu Prime Minister, and ex-chancellor, has previously praised the UK Jewish community for having "led the way" on integration and retaining a strong identity in this country

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Rishi Sunak has won the race to be the new Prime Minister after Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the leadership contest.

The former chancellor – who has previously described the UK Jewish community as having “led the way” in retaining a strong identity, while also integrating into society – was the only candidate to receive the backing of more than the 100 MPs needed in Monday’s first round of the battle.

Challenger Mordaunt announced she had dropped out of the race shortly ahead of the 2pm final nominations announcement.

In a short statement to the nation, Sunak later said it was “the greatest honour of my life to serve the party I love and give back to the country.”

Conservative peer Lord Harrington, who is Jewish, had appeared on Radio 4 at lunchtime to urge Mordaunt to withdraw, saying Sunak was becoming PM because he is “a lot smarter.”

The decisive result also meant there was no need to take the contest to a vote of the Tory members.

The Board of Deputies related a statement congratulating Sunak on becoming Conservative Party leader.

It said:”We congratulate Rishi Sunak and wish him well as he assumes this new mantle of leadership.

“The Board of Deputies looks forward to meeting the Prime Minister at the earliest opportunity to discuss key issues relating to our community.”

The former chancellor – who is a practicing Hindu –  now replaces Liz Truss, who stood down last week week after only 44 days in the role, leaving her as the shortest serving PM ever.

The UK’s only previous PM from an ethnic minority was Benjamin Disraeli, who was born Jewish, in 1874.

Sunak’s views on the UK Jewish community, and his strong support for Israel become apparent during the earlier leadership contest, where he lost out to Truss.

But in an early Westminster speech he had said of the UK community:”The Jewish people have led the way in demonstrating how to fully integrate and participate in our national life while retaining a distinct and proud identity.”

Sunak – who becomes the first non-white PM – has also praised the contribution made by the Community Security Trust (CST) to protecting the community.

In an article for Jewish News in July he stated:”Antisemitism can take many forms.

“I will continue to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Bill, that will prevent public bodies engaging in boycotts that undermine community cohesion.”

On Israel he said:”The Jewish community is right to call out those who seek to damage the only Jewish state in the world.

“As a country, we must work collaboratively to eliminate racism and discrimination wherever we see it.”

He also described Israel as being “a shining beacon of hope” in the Middle East.

He has also praised the work of the Community Security Trust (CST) saying he felt “horrified” by the need for security outside Jewish faith schools.

Sunak added:”“As long as they are needed we will continue to support their work to keep the Jewish community safe.”

The former chancellor has previously described Israel as a “shining beacon of hope” in the Middle East.

But he has also stated “the only route to a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is through the resumption of direct negotiations, and that involves engaging with the Palestinian Authority.”
The ex-hedge fund manager told a Conservative Friends of Israel hustings in July that he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s “historic capital”.

He agreed with ex-PM Truss there was a “very strong case” for relocating the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But Sunak also then admitted he was not sure why the move had not already happened.

The Richmond MP also told the audience that he was committed to the construction of the controversial Westminster Holocaust memorial in Victoria Embankment gardens, and vowed to get BDS restrictions on the legislative agenda.

It was Sunak’s resignation from the government, along with Sajid Javid’s on July 5th, that sparked the end of Boris Johnson’s time as leader.

Johnson had flown by to the UK at the weekend hopeful of securing a return to power.

But he dropped out on Sunday, despite claiming the support of 102 MPs, whose names were not disclosed.

The Tories now face a battle to stay in power, with Labour way out ahead in the opinion polls, and demanding a general election.

Sunak will attempt to resolve deep divisions within his own party, during a time of economic crisis, to retain power.



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