Rishi Sunak reflects on Downing Street Diwalis; to step down as Tory leader

Outgoing British PM Rishi Sunak on Friday said he will step down as the leader of the Conservative Party, taking “responsibility” for its debacle in the general election
Outgoing British PM Rishi Sunak
Outgoing British PM Rishi Sunak

London | Outgoing British prime minister Rishi Sunak on Friday said he will step down as the leader of the Conservative Party, taking “responsibility” for its debacle in the general election, and reflected upon the Diwalis he was able to celebrate with his family on Downing Street as the country's first leader of Indian heritage.

In his farewell speech as prime minister after 20 months in office, the 44-year-old was filled with emotion as he apologised to the voters who had delivered the party led by him a hammering at the ballot box. But he stressed that he had given the job everything and also apologised to his Tory colleagues who lost their seats overnight.

“I would like to say first and foremost, I am sorry. I have given this job my all, but you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change,” said Sunak, watched over by his wife Akshata Murty.

“Yours is the only judgment that matters. I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss… Following this result, I will step down as party leader, not immediately, but once the formal arrangements for selecting my successor are in place,” he said.

The outgoing leader acknowledged the rebuilding work required within the Tories as it takes on the “crucial role” of the new Opposition in Parliament. Sunak also highlighted a few of his key achievements during his premiership, pointing to falling inflation and leaving the UK “safer, stronger and more secure”.

He went on to welcome his successor to the “most demanding of jobs in an increasingly unstable world” at 10 Downing Street: “Whilst he has been my political opponent, Sir Keir Starmer will shortly become our prime minister. In this job, his successes will be all our successes, and I wish him and his family well.

“Whatever our disagreements in this campaign, he is a decent, public-spirited man, who I respect. He and his family deserve the very best of our understanding, as they make a huge transition to their new lives behind this door,” he said.

He concluded his speech on a note of gratitude, to his team and his wife and children for the sacrifices they made so that he could serve the country.

Sunak concluded: “One of the most remarkable things about Britain is just how unremarkable it is that two generations after my grandparents came here with little I could become prime minister, and that I could watch my two young daughters light Diwali candles on the steps at Downing Street. We must hold true to that idea of who we are.

“That vision of kindness, decency and tolerance that has always been the British way. This is a difficult day, at the end of a number of difficult days. But I leave this job honoured to have been your Prime Minister. This is the best country in the world and it is thanks entirely to you, the British people, the true source of all our achievements, our strengths and our greatness.”

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