Clock ticking on the three tasks of Sunak

Britain's newly appointed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waves as he poses outside to door to 10 Downing Street in central London, on Oct 25, 2022, after delivering his first speech as prime minister. (DANIEL LEAL / AFP)

Rishi Sunak, who will be the United Kingdom's new prime minister later this week, tweeted on Monday "I want to fix our economy, unite our Party and deliver for our country".

But none of the three tasks will be easy to accomplish. The Brexit eggs have started to hatch and the UK economy was suffering even before Sunak's predecessor Liz Truss detonated her tax bomb. The Conservative Party members opted for Truss in their head-to-head bid for the party's leadership three months ago, and the factions within the party will not be easily reconciled.

Sunak's efforts in 2020 to bail out the UK economy during the coronavirus pandemic have become his greatest political capital. But these practices were emergency measures in times of crisis, and to restore economic stability and fix "Broken Britain" are formidable challenges.

With the UK suffering from massive debt accumulation, high inflation and weak growth, Sunak will be looking to preserve the pound's credibility, promote economic growth and lower inflation.

The two previous UK prime ministers, Boris Johnson and Truss, failed the test, because they were not prepared to bite the bullet and stop letting the United States lead the country by the nose. Their betting of the country's future on being party to Washington's geopolitical games was shortsighted and self-serving.

As a result, Johnson and Truss were effectively ejected from the post of prime minister because they proved to be unfit for the office. It is to be hoped that Sunak will quickly demonstrate that he has the credentials and capacity to be an effective leader.

That Johnson and Truss were evicted from No 10 Downing Street has highlighted the self-serving rapaciousness that has been festering in the Conservative Party under the guise of ideology. That has only been prevented from throwing the UK into anarchy because of the resilience of its institutions.

Sunak will need to keep a tight rein on that extortionary tendency within the party if he is to win favor with the public. And only by reviving his party's standing in the polls will he be able to stop the party from ousting him. That will mean restoring confidence among the public that the government knows what it is doing, as double-digit inflation, rising interest rates and the political chaos have shown the promised envy-of-all "Global Britain" riding high on the waves to be nothing but snake oil for ship that is desperately foundering.

Proving Truss was wrong does not necessarily make Sunak right. And he will need to avoid stumbling where she fell on the slippery deck. That calls for practical measures to mend the holes and a clearly charted course, as well as capable helmsmanship to navigate the difficult waters the country has foolishly allowed itself to be blown into.