Rishi Sunak faces his first Prime Minister’s Question Time

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By Euronews and AP
New UK PM Rishi Sunak holds his first full cabinet meeting
New UK PM Rishi Sunak holds his first full cabinet meeting   -  Copyright  Stefan Rousseau/WPA Rota

The UK's new prime minister has faced calls for a general election just two days into the job. After the first full meeting of his cabinet, Rishi Sunak appeared in Parliament for his inaugural battle with the Leader of the Opposition.

As Sunak came to power through an internal election of Conservative Party MPs, Keir Starmer said he should allow the general public to have their say.

"Even his own side knows he's not on the side of working people. That's why the only time he ran in a competitive election got trounced by the former Prime Minister [Liz Truss].”

He asked, “so why doesn't he put it to the test, let working people have their say and call a general election."

However, Sunak insisted he does have a mandate, inherited from his party's election victory in 2019, saying "Our mandate is based on a manifesto that we were elected on.”

“To remind him, an election [in 2019] that we won and they lost. A mandate that says we want a stronger NHS, better schools, safer streets, control over our borders and levelling up, that is the mandate that I and this government will deliver for the British people."

Sunak’s cabinet has mixed allies with experienced ministers from the administrations of his two immediate predecessors, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, as he tries to tackle Britain’s multiple economic problems.

He removed about a dozen members of Truss’ government but kept several senior figures in place, including Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly and Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace.

One of his government’s first acts was to delay a key economic statement until 17 November. This means that the Bank of England will have to make its next interest rate decision before it knows the details of the government’s tax and spending plans.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said that he discussed the delay with Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey on Tuesday night.

After months of chaos within the Conservatives, Sunak's first challenge is to bring unity and stability to his party. But with the opposition Labour party enjoying a huge lead in the opinion polls, he faces a tough electoral test at the next general election, which will be held no later than January 2025.