Home News Sunak defends his record in final speech as prime minister

Sunak defends his record in final speech as prime minister

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Rishi Sunak addressed the nation for the last time as British prime minister on Friday, apologising for his defeat and accepting responsibility for the Conservative Party’s disastrous election performance but defending his economic record.

“First, I want to say sorry to the country,” Sunak said in a brief but solemn statement in Downing Street. “I hear your anger and your disappointment. I take responsibility for this loss.”

The outgoing leader spoke for about four minutes as his wife Akshata Murthy looked on. He then made the short journey to Buckingham Palace to hand in his resignation to King Charles III.

The election defeat was a major event in British political history, bringing an end to the Conservative Party’s 14-year term in power. Sunak said he would resign as Conservative leader, but only after a successor was formally arranged. He remained an MP and was re-elected to Yorkshire County Council.

Sunak, who has been criticized by some of his colleagues for calling an early election, acknowledged he had failed both the Conservative party and the country. But he also defended his record, saying that in his less than two years as prime minister, inflation had fallen, economic growth had resumed and Britain’s standing in the world had been enhanced.

“I am proud of these achievements,” he said. “I believe this country is safer and more secure than it was 20 months ago.”

He also praised his successor, Keir Starmer, calling him a “decent, public-spirited man whom I respect”.

“In this job, his success is success for all of us and I wish him and his family all the best,” Sunak said.

The announcement marks, at least temporarily, the end of the political career of the 44-year-old former hedge fund manager, who has risen rapidly in public life. Sunak entered Parliament in 2015 and served as chancellor during the coronavirus pandemic, when he provided generous financial support to keep workers in jobs.

Sunak said: “This is a difficult day in a series of difficult days, but I leave office having been honoured to have served as your prime minister.”

He made a personal statement, saying he was proud to be the first Hindu Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

He said: “One of the most remarkable things about Britain is how ordinary it is that after two generations of my grandparents arrived in the UK with nothing, I can become prime minister and see my two young daughters light Diwali candles on the steps of Downing Street.”

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