President Joe Biden is welcoming outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to the White House for talks on Monday as the competition to find his successor to lead the military alliance heats up. Stoltenberg, who has led the NATO since 2014 and has had his tenure extended three times, said earlier this year he would move on when his current time expires at the end of September. The jockeying to replace him is intensifying as leaders of the 31-member military alliance are set to meet next month for their annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. Last week, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made the case for U.K. Defense Minister Ben Wallace directly to Biden. The U.S. president also met with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, another potential contender. Also Read: Religious leaders shocked at congressmen's letter to Biden Asked about the NATO job at a news conference with Sunak by his side, Biden called Wallace "very qualified" but noted that the conversation among NATO leaders to find a "consensus" pick to replace Stoltenberg was ongoing. Biden's opinion carries enormous weight as the U.S. spends more than any other member in the alliance on defense. Frederiksen sought to play down her candidacy after she met with Biden last week. She declined to say whether she discussed the coming vacancy with him, telling reporters that she did not want to go "further in these speculations about NATO." The alliance has never had a female secretary-general. Also Read: NATO allies prepare unprecedented air deployment exercise over Europe in show of force to Russia A British government official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said ahead of Sunak's visit that the British leader wants to be sure the next secretary general "carries on Stoltenberg's good work of modernization but also understands the importance of defense spending at this critical time." Denmark has lagged behind NATO's target for members to spend 2% of gross domestic product on military budgets by 2030. But the centrist government announced late last month that it would look to invest some 143 billion kroner ($20.6 billion) in the country's defense over the next decade, citing a "serious threat picture." Biden and Stoltenberg are also expected to discuss Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine and efforts to persuade fellow NATO member Turkey to back off blocking Sweden from joining the military alliance. Sweden and Finland, both historically unaligned militarily, jointly sought NATO membership after being rattled by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Turkey initially blocked both countries from joining the alliance before agreeing to membership for Finland while continuing to object to Sweden. Also Read: US says ‘the time is now’ for Sweden to join NATO and for Turkey to get new F-16s In public comments since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was reelected last month, Biden has spoken with a measure of certainty that Sweden will soon join the alliance. "It will happen. I promise you," Biden said of Sweden's NAT0 ascension earlier this month. Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have both expressed hope that Sweden will be brought into the NATO fold by the time allied leaders meet in Lithuania on July 11-12.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday (May 05, 2023) said that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is a great inspiration to him. “My wife and two daughters are your fans,” he was quoted as saying during a bilateral meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart at the Marlborough House of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. This was the first meeting between the two prime ministers after Sunak took over as the Prime Minister of Britain. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is in London to attend the coronation of King Charles III. Also read: PM Hasina holds bilateral meeting with Rishi Sunak Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem briefed reporters after the meeting. PM’s Speech Writer M Nazrul Islam was also present during the briefing. PM Hasina congratulated Sunak at the beginning of the meeting. She congratulated him on becoming the first British prime minister of Asian heritage at a young age. “You are a great example of what the youth can do,” she was quoted as saying. Praising Bangladesh's economic growth and Sheikh Hasina's leadership, Sunak wanted to know the secret behind success in maintaining high economic growth before and after the Covid-19 pandemic, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Britain said. Read More: UK’s Sunak set to say security guarantees need for Ukraine She also said the British PM considers Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a role model. Highlighting UK's relationship with Bangladesh, the High Commissioner said, “Rishi Sunak said that our relationship is very good. We have a wonderful relationship of 50 years. (In the future) it will be even better.” She said that there was a discussion on business relations between the two PMs. “As you know our relationship with Britain earlier was an aid-based relationship. But now, even 1 percent of our GDP is not from aid,” the Bangladesh High Commissioner said. Read More: Sunak marks 100 days as UK prime minister as problems mount “The British PM wanted to increase the trade and investment between Bangladesh and Britain,” she said. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that British companies should invest more in Bangladesh. High Commissioner Saida Muna also said that Britain attaches great importance to Bangladesh. Heads of states and governments from 130 countries have come to the UK to attend the King's coronation. “Among them, Rishi Sunak has held bilateral meetings with the heads of states and governments of only 7 countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was among them.” Read More: Dhaka, Beijing should "deepen strategic partnership" to explore new growth points: Ambassador Yao During the bilateral meeting that went on for about 35 minutes, various bilateral and regional issues were discussed as well as Rohingyas who were forcibly displaced from their homeland in Myanmar. Saida Muna said, "Rishi Sunak mentioned that Bangladesh is carrying this huge burden, and Britain understands that it is a big problem." Sheikh Hasina thanked the British Prime Minister and people for their support to the Rohingya issue. She also said that the burden of Rohingyas has become a big security threat. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina invited Rishi Sunak to visit Bangladesh to see the conditions of Rohingyas firsthand. Read More: UK private sector to remain invested in BD's aviation sector Sunak praised Prime Minister Hasina's leadership on the issue of climate change as well. While talking about the Ashrayan Project, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister said that so far some seven lakh homeless families have been given houses under the project. British PM Rishi Sunak highly praised the Ashrayan project, the Bangladesh High Commissioner said.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday will call on world leaders to “double down” on support for Ukraine, saying arms and security guarantees are needed to protect the country and the rest of Europe from Russian aggression now and in the future. Sunak will deliver the message in a speech to the Munich Security Conference, an annual meeting of heads of state, defense ministers and other world leaders. This year’s meeting will focus on threats to the accepted rules of international relations a year after Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Highlighting Britain’s recent commitment to provide battle tanks, advanced air defense systems and longer-range missiles to Ukraine, Sunak will urge other nations to follow suit before Russia launches an expected spring offensive. “Now is the moment to double down on our military support,” Sunak said in excerpts released ahead of the speech. “When Putin started this war, he gambled that our resolve would falter. Even now he is betting we will lose our nerve.” Sunak will also call on NATO to provide long-term security guarantees for Ukraine. Such commitments are necessary to shield Ukraine from future Russian aggression and to protect the system of international rules that have helped keep the peace since the end of World War II, Sunak is expected to say. “It’s about the security and sovereignty of every nation,” Sunak says in the excerpts. “Because Russia’s invasion, its abhorrent war crimes and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric are symptomatic of a broader threat to everything we believe in.”
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has angry unions to the left of him, anxious Conservative Party lawmakers to the right and, in the middle, millions of voters he must win over to avert electoral defeat. It’s a daunting situation for Sunak, who on Thursday marks 100 days in office, more than twice the number of his ill-fated predecessor, Liz Truss. Installed as Conservative leader after Truss’ plan for huge tax cuts sparked panic, the 42-year-old Sunak calmed financial markets and averted economic meltdown after he assumed the post of prime minister on Oct. 25. Next, Britain’s youngest leader for two centuries — and its first prime minister of South Asian heritage — has promised to tame soaring inflation, get the sluggish economy growing, ease pressure on the overburdened health care system and “restore the integrity back into politics” after years of scandals under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Easier said than done. “The things that happened before I was prime minister, I can’t do anything about,” Sunak told a group of health workers this week. “What I think you can hold me to account for is how I deal with the things that arise on my watch.” Jill Rutter, a senior fellow at the Institute for Government think tank, said Sunak had succeeded in overcoming the impression that the U.K. “had a completely lunatic government.” Also read: UK’s Sunak vows to halve inflation, tackle illegal migration “You would chalk that up as the first thing that he had on his to-do list,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s slightly hard to see concrete achievements.” Sunak is a former U.K. Treasury chief, and his top priority has been the country's economic malaise. Gross domestic product remains smaller than it was before the coronavirus pandemic, and the International Monetary Fund forecast this week that the U.K. will be the only major economy to contract this year, shrinking by 0.6%. Sunak blames global forces — disruption from the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Critics say the elephant in the room is Brexit, which has led to a sharp reduction in trade between the U.K. and the European Union. Sunak, a longtime advocate of Britain’s departure from the bloc, insisted Wednesday that the cost-of-living crisis had “nothing to do with Brexit.” Whatever the causes, Sunak has little economic room to maneuver. Annual inflation hit a four-decade high of 11.1% in October and remained at a painful 10.5% in December. The U.K. is in the midst of its biggest wave of strikes in decades as nurses, paramedics, teachers, border agents and other workers seek pay increases to offset the soaring cost of living and the stresses of holding a job in an increasingly threadbare public sector. Meanwhile, a faction inside the Conservative Party is pushing for immediate tax cuts to encourage growth, despite the damage done by “Trussonomics” just months ago. “We need growth or our debts will get bigger,” lawmaker Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader, said this week. “Targeted tax reductions will help achieve that.” Sunak is resisting both labor unions and tax-cutting Tories. He argues that double-digit public sector pay raises would drive inflation even higher and that “the best tax cut right now is a cut in inflation.” Economists say U.K. inflation will likely fall during 2023, allowing Sunak to meet one of his key pledges. Other goals are likely to be harder to achieve. He is seeking to improve relations with the 27-member EU, and both sides have made progress toward resolving a dispute over Northern Ireland trade rules that has burdened businesses and shuttered the regional government in Belfast. But any agreement will anger Conservative euroskeptics, who are likely to see rapprochement with Brussels as a betrayal of Brexit. A compromise also faces opposition from Northern Ireland’s British unionists, who say post-Brexit customs checks undermine Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom. Sunak also has struggled to rid the Conservative Party of its reputation for scandal and sleaze. A member of his Cabinet, Gavin Williamson, quit in November over bullying claims. On Sunday, Sunak fired party chair Nadhim Zahawi for failing to come clean about a multimillion-dollar tax dispute. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab is being investigated over allegations he bullied civil servants, which he denies. The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, alleged Wednesday that Sunak was “too weak” to tackle bad behavior. U.K. voters haven't yet had their say on Sunak, who was chosen as party leader by the 357 Conservative members of Parliament. The government doesn't have to call a national election until late 2024, so Sunak may have time on his side. Or, he may not. The Conservatives are trailing 20 or more points behind Labour in opinion polls, and poor results in May's local elections could spur calls for another change of leader. Some Conservatives hanker for the return of Johnson, whose final words to Parliament as prime minister — “Hasta la vista, baby” — hinted at a comeback. Some analysts say it may be too late for any Conservative leader to avoid defeat. An Ipsos poll released this week, considered accurate to within 4 percentage points, found 66% of respondents wanted a change of governing party. Only 10% thought the Conservatives had done a good job. Steven Fielding, emeritus professor of politics at the University of Nottingham, likened the mood to the final years of Prime Minister John Major’s government, wiped away by Tony Blair's Labour election landslide in 1997 that ended 18 years of Conservative rule. “People are just waiting for them to go,” Fielding said. “And the longer they are there, the more irritated (voters) are with them.” He said Sunak “is trying his best. But people aren’t listening.”
U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was fined by police on Friday (January 20, 2023) for taking off his seat belt to film a social media video in a moving car. Sunak, 42, has apologized for making an “error of judgment” while recording a message for Instagram from the back of an official government car during a visit to northwest England on Thursday. The Lancashire Police force said it had looked into video “circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seat belt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire.” The force said, without naming Sunak, that it had “issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.” Also read: UK’s Sunak vows to halve inflation, tackle illegal migration Failing to wear a seat belt is punishable by a penalty of up to 500 pounds ($620), though fixed penalty notices for such offenses are usually 100 pounds ($124) if paid promptly. The conditional offer means that the person fined accepts guilt but doesn’t have to go to court. Police didn’t say how much Sunak was fined. Sunak’s office said in a statement that “the prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologized. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty.” Read More: Sunak won’t go to UN climate conference: UK It’s the second time Sunak has been fined during his political career. Last year, when he was Treasury chief, he was fined 50 pounds for breaching pandemic lockdown rules by briefly attending a party inside government offices. He was one of dozens of officials fined over the “partygate” scandal, including then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Sunak took office as U.K. leader in October, promising “integrity, professionalism and accountability” after a tumultuous few years that saw Johnson ousted by multiple scandals and his successor Liz Truss toppled after her policies rocked the U.K. economy.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will not attend a major United Nations climate conference next month, the government said Thursday. Sunak’s office said the decision was made because of “pressing domestic commitments” including preparations for an emergency budget on Nov. 17 and does not reflect a downgrade in the Conservative government’s commitment to combating climate change. Other senior U.K. government ministers are expected to attend. Sunak took office on Tuesday, replacing Liz Truss, who stepped down after a seven-week term in which her tax-cutting plans sparked economic and political mayhem. Officials from almost 200 countries are due to gather in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, starting Nov. 6 to discuss how to tackle global warming at the conference known as COP27. Britain hosted last year’s COP26 conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which was attended by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Read: Rishi Sunak becomes UK's 3rd PM this year by King Charles III A Sunak spokeswoman said Britain remained committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, “and to leading international and domestic action to tackle climate change.” Opposition Labour Party spokesman Ed Miliband said Sunak had made “a terrible decision.” “These summits matter,” he told the BBC. “They are forcing mechanisms for action on the biggest issue we face as a world.”
Rishi Sunak has announced that he has accepted King Charles III’s request to form a new cabinet as the new Prime Minister of UK. Like yesterday, Sunak begins his remarks on television by paying tribute to Liz Truss, his predecessor, reports BBC. Sunak said, “It is only right to explain why I am standing here as your new prime minister.” “Right now our country is facing a profound economic crisis.” “The aftermath of Covid still lingers.” Sunak praised Truss and claimed that her desire to enhance growth in UK was not misguided since “it’s a noble aim”. He claimed that while he appreciated her drive to bring about change, “some mistakes were made”. “I will unite our country not with words but with action,” said Sunak. “I will work day in and day out to deliver for you.” “Trust is earned and I will earn yours,” he says. According to Sunak, the UK government will operate with honesty, competence, and responsibility at every level.
Former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is strong favorite to become Britain’s next prime minister within days — or even hours — after former leader Boris Johnson dropped out of the Conservative Party leadership contest. After the resignation of Liz Truss last week, the governing party is choosing Britain’s third prime minister this year at a time of political turmoil and severe economic challenges. Sunak, 42, is the only candidate with confirmed support from more than 100 lawmakers, the number needed to run in the election. House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt has far fewer expressions of support, but is aiming to reach the threshold by the time nominations close at 2 p.m. If Mordaunt does not reach 100 nominations, Sunak will win by acclamation and could move into 10 Downing St. by Monday evening. If both make the ballot, the 357 Conservative lawmakers will hold an indicative vote on Monday to show their preference. If neither subsequently drops out, the choice will go to the 172,000 party members around the country, with a result announced Friday. Mordaunt will come under intense pressure to step aside and not force a membership vote if Sunak is the strong favorite among lawmakers. Home Secretary Grant Shapps, a Sunak supporter, said the former Treasury chief did not think he had the contest “in the bag.” “He’s speaking to colleagues this morning, he’s working very hard to attract those supporters who were perhaps with Boris Johnson previously,” Shapps said. “But, look, I’ll leave it to Penny, she’s a terrific colleague. Let’s see what happens.” Sunak, who was runner-up to Truss in this summer’s Tory leadership race to replace Johnson, has promised “integrity, professionalism and accountability” if he forms a government — a contrast to the chaos that consumed the past two prime ministers. Johnson dramatically quit the race on Sunday night, ending a short-lived, high-profile attempt to return to the prime minister’s job he was ousted from little more than three months ago amid ethics scandals. Read: Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss to be named as UK's new prime minister Johnson spent the weekend trying to gain support from fellow Conservative lawmakers after flying back from a Caribbean vacation. Late Sunday he said he had amassed the backing of 102 colleagues. But he was far behind Sunak in support, and said he had concluded that “you can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in Parliament. The prospect of a return by Johnson had thrown the already divided Conservative Party into further turmoil. He led the party to a thumping election victory in 2019, but his premiership was clouded by scandals over money and ethics that eventually became too much for the party to bear. In his Sunday statement, Johnson insisted he was “well placed to deliver a Conservative victory” in the next national election, due by 2024. And he said that he likely would have won a ballot of Conservative Party members against either of his rivals. “But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do,” he said. He hinted he might be back, however, saying: “I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.” Truss quit Thursday after a turbulent 45 days in office, conceding that she could not deliver on her botched tax-cutting economic package, which she was forced to abandon after it sparked fury within her party and weeks of turmoil in financial markets. Sunak, who was Treasury chief from 2020 until this summer, steered Britain’s slumping economy through the coronavirus pandemic. He quit in July in protest at Johnson’s leadership. The Conservative Party turmoil is fueling demands for a national election. Under Britain’s parliamentary system, there does not need to be one until the end of 2024, though the government has the power to call one sooner. Currently that looks unlikely. Opinion polls say an election would spell disaster for the Conservatives, with the left-of-center Labour Party winning a large majority.
The two candidates vying to be Britain’s next prime minister will face off in a TV debate Monday, after both sought to woo the Conservative Party’s right-wing base by backing a controversial plan to deport some asylum-seekers to Rwanda. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak are battling to succeed the discredited Boris Johnson as head of Britain’s governing party. They were chosen by Conservative lawmakers from an initial field of 11 candidates as finalists to replace Johnson, who quit as party leader on July 7 after months of ethics scandals triggered a mass exodus of ministers from his government. The winner will automatically become prime minister, governing a country of 67 million — but will be chosen by about 180,000 Conservative Party members. They will vote over the summer with the result announced Sept. 5. Johnson remains caretaker prime minister until his successor is chosen. Also read: Britain’s Boris Johnson battles to stay as PM amid revolt Truss, 46, and 42-year-old Sunak have wooed Conservatives by doubling down on policies thought to appeal to the Tory grassroots. Both are backing a contentious deal agreed by the Johnson government with Rwanda to send some migrants who arrive in Britain in small boats on a one-way trip to the East African nation. The deportees would be allowed to apply for asylum in Rwanda, not the U.K. The government says the policy will deter people-traffickers from sending migrants on hazardous journeys across the Channel. Political opponents, human rights organizations and even a few Conservative lawmakers say it is immoral, illegal and a waste of taxpayers’ money. The first scheduled deportation flight was grounded after legal rulings last month, and the whole policy is now being challenged in the British courts. Also read: Sunak, Truss emerge as finalists in UK leadership race On Sunday, Sunak said “no options should be off the table” despite questions over the policy’s legality and morality. Truss said she was “determined” to see the Rwanda plan through and raised the possibility of expanding it to additional countries. Truss also said she would expand the size of the U.K. Border Force, while Sunak has suggested housing asylum-seekers on cruise ships. Hard-line policies like the Rwanda plan are less popular with voters as a whole than with Conservatives, but the British electorate won’t get a say on the government until the next national election, due by the end of 2024. Truss and Sunak have already clashed over economic policy, with Truss promising immediate tax cuts and Sunak — who shepherded Britain’s economy through the coronavirus pandemic — saying he will get inflation under control before slashing taxes. He says borrowing more to cut taxes would be “immoral.” The leadership election is taking place during a cost-of-living crisis driven by soaring food and energy prices, partly due to the war in Ukraine. While many countries are experiencing economic turbulence, in Britain it’s compounded by the country’s departure from the European Union, which has complicated travel and business relations with the U.K.’s biggest trading partner. Both Sunak and Truss are strong supporters of Brexit, which was the signature policy of the Johnson government. But the two have sparred on topics such as policy toward China, with allies of Truss accusing Sunak of changing his stance on relations with Beijing. Sunak says China represents the “biggest-long term threat to Britain,” and says that if elected he would close the 30 Confucius Institutes in Britain. Funded by the Chinese government, the institutes teach Chinese language and culture, but have been accused of spreading pro-Beijing propaganda. Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, a longtime China critic who backs Truss, said Sunak’s Treasury had previously “pushed hard for an economic deal with China.” “Where have you been over the last two years?” he said.