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Outgoing UK PM Rishi Sunak quits as Conservative Party leader after crushing election defeat

Outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to the media as he leaves 10 Downing Street following Labour’s landslide election victory on July 5, 2024 in London, England. 

Leon Neal | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON – Outgoing UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday said he will step down as the leader of the Conservative Party after the opposition Labour Party secured a landslide victory in Thursday’s nationwide election.

Sunak announced he will step down as the leader of the Conservative Party as soon as the formal arrangements for selecting his successor are in place. He then had an audience with King Charles III where he tendered his resignation as prime minister.

“This is a difficult day, at the end of a number of difficult days,” Sunak said during a final address outside of Downing Street. “But I leave this job honored to have been your prime minister.”

UK PM Rishi Sunak concedes defeat

Speaking to crowds on 10 Downing Street, Sunak said: “I have given this job my all, but you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change, and yours is the only judgment that matters.”

The Conservative Party suffered its lowest result, in terms of seats, in its post-war history. The former leader and chancellor of the exchequer conceded defeat early Friday morning after Labour passed the threshold needed to govern alone. Keir Starmer’s Labour Party won its second-largest majority after former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s 179-seat majority in 1997.

Sunak held on to his seat in Richmond and Northallerton after winning 47.5% of the votes – a 15% drop from the previous election. But other high-profile members of parliament in the election such as Grant Shapps, the party’s defense minister, and Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, failed to secure another term.

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“I have heard your anger, your discipline, and I take responsibility for this loss to all the conservative candidates and campaigners who work tirelessly but without success,” Sunak said Friday.

“I am sorry that we could not deliver what your efforts deserved. It pains me to think how many good colleagues who contributed so much to their communities and our country will now no longer sit in the House of Commons.”

Sunak was appointed prime minister in October 2022, becoming the first British Asian to take office. He held the post for just 20 months.

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