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Rishi Sunak becomes British PM; 'not daunted' by economic challenges

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New British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes a statement outlining his government's vision to the public outside No.10 Downing Street in London on Tuesday. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
New British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes a statement outlining his government's vision to the public outside No.10 Downing Street in London on Tuesday. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Rishi Sunak officially became Britain's prime minister, its third in three months, after meeting King Charles III on Tuesday morning in fast-moving developments.

It was the first time King Charles fulfilled his constitutional role of meeting the new prime minister. Queen Elizabeth II met former Prime Minister Liz Truss in Britain's traditional handover of power just days before the monarch's death.

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Truss resigned last week after less than two months on the job after being harmed by criticism over her economic plan that crumbled the value of the British pound. Sunak said tough economic decisions are still ahead.

"Our country continues to battle through a storm, but I believe in Britain, I believe in the British people and I know brighter days lie ahead," Truss said in her outgoing speech Tuesday.

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Sunak acknowledged that "mistakes" were made under Truss -- mistakes his administration must now correct to recover from the current economic struggles.

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"[The mistakes were] not born of ill will or bad intentions -- quite the opposite -- but mistakes nonetheless," Sunak said. "I will unite our country not with words but with action. I will work day in and day out to deliver for you."

Sunak said "trust is earned" and he plans to do that with a government that will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.

"I'm not daunted," Sunak said. "I fully appreciate how hard things are. [I pledge] a stronger NHS, better schools, safer streets, control of our borders, protecting our environment, supporting our armed forces and leveling up."

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In one of Sunak's first key moves in forming his cabinet, he retained Jeremy Hunt as chancellor. Hunt had recently been named to the position by Truss after she sacked Kwasi Kwarteng, who was blamed for Truss' massive tax cut proposal.

Dominic Raab, who served as deputy prime minister and justice secretary under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, returned to those roles under Sunak Tuesday, officials said. Raab has served as Brexit secretary but resigned because of former Prime Minister Theresa May Brexit deal.

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Sunak brought in Simon Hart as the party's new chief whip, replacing Wendy Morton. James Cleverly, who initially supported Johnson's return as prime minister, was re-appointed foreign secretary, while Ben Wallace will remain as defense secretary.

There were also defections. Jacob Rees-Mogg, who also called for Johnson's return, resigned as business secretary while Brandon Lewis stepped down as justice secretary.

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