London | Rishi Sunak on Wednesday completed a year as Britain's first Indian-origin Prime Minister, having taken charge at 10 Downing Street amid the turmoil of predecessor Liz Truss' short-lived premiership and several domestic and global challenges.
The 43-year-old faced off with Opposition Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer in the House of Commons as his office was keen to portray it as just another working day, without any anniversary celebrations planned.
In a video posted on social media, Sunak indicated a similar sentiment.
"We've achieved a lot in the year since I became PM. But be in no doubt, there's so much more to do,” said Sunak.
"I know this year has been tough. And there is still work to be done to help hardworking families across the country, but I'm proud of the steps we've made," he added.
The governing Conservative Party chairman, Greg Hands, praised the party leader on his one-year milestone.
"When Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister a year ago today, he took immediate action to support families with the cost of living, paying half their energy bills. Since then we have made good progress towards halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing debt, cutting NHS waiting lists, and stopping the boats," said Hands.
"But for the last 30 years, the Prime Minister recognises that there has been too much short-term political decision making, politicians taking the easy way out, ducking the hard choices, rather than fixing the underlying problems. The Prime Minister has proven he is the only person who is determined to change that,” he said.
Besides external challenges posed by the Israel-Hamas conflict and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Sunak faces a heavy domestic in-tray of inflation and cost of living pressures as the UK prepares for a general election next year.
There is an anti-incumbency factor playing against the Conservatives, which trail between 15 and 20 points behind Labour in opinion polls — a gap that hasn't moved much during Sunak's year in office.
In September 2022, he lost a Conservative leadership contest to Liz Truss, who took over as prime minister from the scandal-hit Boris Johnson. Then, Truss announced a mini budget that included billions in uncosted tax cuts and spooked the financial markets, leading to her hasty exit. His party chose Sunak to replace her, and was named Britain's third Prime Minister of the year and the first of Indian heritage on Diwali day in October 2022.
He set five goals for his government, including halving inflation, which peaked at 11.1 per cent in late 2022, getting the economy growing, reducing a healthcare backlog and curbing the number of migrants reaching Britain across the English Channel in small boats.
There has been some progress – inflation was 6.7 per cent in September and the economy is growing, albeit only by about 0.5 per cent on the year. But the other areas remain dogged with issues