Rishi Sunak's speech in full as he becomes UK's third PM in two months

25 October 2022, 14:57 | Updated: 25 October 2022, 15:03

Rishi Sunak becomes Britain's 57th Prime Minister
Rishi Sunak has become the third prime minister in two months. Picture: Getty . Picture: Getty

By James Hockaday

Rishi Sunak vowed to "unite" the country after he officially became the UK's third prime minister in two months at a time of profound economic turmoil.

The new Conservative party leader is the country's first Asian PM, and at 42 years old, is the youngest person to hold the posts since 1783.

Some are hailing his rise to power as an "Obama moment', and supporters within the Tory party believe he is their main hope of restoring the party's reputation and bringing stability to the country after Liz Truss' turbulent 50 days in power.

But others are quitting the party in anger, as the former chancellor came second to Truss in this summer's leadership race and won the latest one by default after everyone else pulled out, with MP Nadine Dorries saying he has "no mandate"

There's no question that Mr Sunak has inherited a bitterly divided party with a dented credibility, but as he gave a speech outside Number 10 today, he vowed to make up for the "mistakes" of his predecessor and to "earn" the public's trust.

Here's what he said:

"Good morning, I have just been to Buckingham Palace and accepted His Majesty The King’s invitation to form a government in his name.

"It is only right to explain why I am standing here as your new Prime Minister. Right now our country is facing a profound economic crisis.

"The aftermath of Covid still lingers.  Putin’s war in Ukraine has destabilised energy markets and supply chains the world over.

Rishi Sunak Makes A Statement In 10 Downing Street As Prime Minister London
The new PM has vowed to unite our country, not with words, but with action. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

"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.  And I admired her restlessness to create change. But some mistakes were made. 

"Not borne 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.

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"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. The government I lead will not leave the next generation your children and grandchildren with a debt to settle that we were too weak to pay ourselves. 

"I will unite our country, not with words, but with action.  I will work day in and day out to deliver for you. This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level. Trust is earned. And I will earn yours.

"I will always be grateful to Boris Johnson for his incredible achievements as Prime Minister, and I treasure his warmth and generosity of spirit.

"And I know he would agree that the mandate my party earned in 2019 is not the sole property of any one individual it is a mandate that belongs to and unites all of us.  And the heart of that mandate is our manifesto. I will deliver on its promise.

"A stronger NHS. Better schools. Safer streets. Control of our borders. Protecting our environment. Supporting our armed forces.

"Levelling up and building an economy that embraces the opportunities of Brexit, where businesses invest, innovate, and create jobs. I understand how difficult this moment is.

Britain's newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak...
Mr Sunak warned of 'difficult decisions' to come. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

"After the billions of pounds it cost us to combat Covid, after all the dislocation that caused in the midst of a terrible war that must be seen successfully to its conclusions, 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.

Read more: Rishi's reshuffle begins: PM assembles new team as Rees-Mogg and Lewis lead Cabinet resignations

"All I can say is that I am not daunted.  I know the high office I have accepted and I hope to live up to its demands.  But when the opportunity to serve comes along, you cannot question the moment, only your willingness.

"So I stand here before you ready to lead our country into the future.  To put your needs above politics. To reach out and build a government that represents the very best traditions of my party.

"Together we can achieve incredible things. We will create a future worthy of the sacrifices so many have made and fill tomorrow, and everyday thereafter with hope. Thank you."