The other potential candidate, Penny Mordaunt, conceded after failing to meet the threshold of nominations from lawmakers required to progress to the next stage of the race. Moments before the number of nominations were due to be announced, Mordaunt pledged her full support to Sunak.
Sunak will become the first person of color and the first Hindu to lead the UK. At 42, he is also the youngest person to take the office in more than 200 years.
Speaking after the announcement, Sunak said he was “humbled and honored” to have been elected leader. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to be able to serve the party I love and give back to the country I owe so much to,” he said in a brief televised statement.
Sunak is set to replace Liz Truss, who will become the shortest-serving prime minister in UK history. Sunak will become prime minister on Tuesday once he is officially appointed by King Charles III and will be the first prime minister appointed by the new King following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September.
CNN understood that the King was traveling to London from the private royal estate of Sandringham on Monday afternoon, as had always been his plan. He will have an audience with Truss on Tuesday morning before meeting with Sunak.
Sunak’s rise is a historic moment for Britain’s South Asian community, said Sanjay Chandarana, who heads a Hindu temple co-founded by Sunak’s grandparents in 1971.
“It’s a Barack Obama moment for us. A South Asian, Indian origin prime minister in the UK. Everyone here is so thrilled to hear that news,” Chandarana, the president of the Vedic Society Hindu Temple in Southampton, told CNN.
Sunak’s grandparents were born in India and his parents emigrated to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s. Sunak has spoken publicly about his British Indian heritage, telling the Business Standard in a 2015 interview that he ticks British Indian on the census.
“I am thoroughly British, this is my home and my country, but my religious and cultural heritage is Indian, my wife is Indian. I am open about being a Hindu,” Sunak told Business Standard.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday offered his “warmest congratulations” to Sunak, calling the incoming Prime Minister a bridge between both countries.
“Special Diwali wishes to the ‘living bridge’ of UK Indians, as we transform our historic ties into a modern partnership,” Modi said on Twitter.
Truss also congratulated Sunak following the announcement, saying on Twitter that he has her “full support.”
Sunak officially declared he’d be standing on Sunday after securing the support of 100 Conservative lawmakers, the necessary threshold set by party officials. By Monday he had secured the support of more than half of the party’s 357 MPs.
His campaign got a big boost when his former boss and rival, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, withdrew from the race on Sunday night.
Monday marks the pinnacle of what has been an astonishingly quick rise to power for Sunak. He was first elected into Parliament in 2015 and became a junior minister in 2017. It was Johnson who gave Sunak his first major government role, appointing him as chief secretary to the Treasury in 2019 and promoting him to chancellor in 2020.
But as Britain’s third prime minister in seven weeks, Sunak is facing an enormous task.
His own party is divided and increasingly unpopular following four months of political turmoil and financial market chaos. At the same time, Britain is facing major economic crisis, with many economists believing it is already in recession.
He is also already under intense fire from opposition politicians.
General election calls
Sunak, like Truss, has not had to win a general election to become prime minister because the Conservatives are still the l