Rishi Sunak will be next UK prime minister - First Hindu to call 10 Downing Street home

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak, the son of immigrants from India, is the new leader of the Conservative Party and will be the next prime minister after Penny Mordaunt announced her last minute withdrawal from the contest to replace Liz Truss

In a statement issued on Twitter just before 2pm, Ms Mordaunt said "it is clear that colleagues feel we need certainty today" and that "as a result, we have now chosen our next Prime Minister".

She said: "This decision is an historic one and shows, once again, the diversity and talent of our party. Rishi has my full support."

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, then announced at 2pm that he had only received "one valid nomination" and it was from Mr Sunak. He said: "Rishi Sunak is therefore elected as leader of the Conservative Party."

Ms Mordaunt failed to secure the support of the 100 Tory MPs she needed to make it onto the ballot and force a head-to-head vote among Conservative Party members. Her allies said it was "touch and go" and "we were close".

Mr Sunak addressed Tory MPs behind closed doors in a committee room in Parliament this afternoon. The new premier was greeted by an enthusiastic banging of desks when he entered the room.

Rishi Sunak will become the country's first Hindu Prime Minister. Groups said the move would be a "historic moment" that shows the highest office "can be open to those of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds".

Sunak is a practising Hindu and takes his Commons oath on the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Sanskrit text. He was born in 1980 in Southampton to parents of Punjabi descent. His grandparents were born in India and emigrated to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s.

Speaking before Mr Sunak was confirmed as the next PM on Monday afternoon, Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: "It will be an historic moment if Rishi Sunak does become our first British Indian and Hindu prime minister, showing that the highest office in Britain can be open to those of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. This will be a source of pride to many British Asians - including many who do not share Rishi Sunak's Conservative politics.

"Most people in Britain rightly say the ethnicity and faith of the prime minister should not matter. They will judge Sunak on whether he can get a grip on the job at a very difficult time. But we should not underestimate this important social change."

He pointed out that when Mr Sunak was born, there had been no Asian or black MPs in the post-war era. Mr Sunak's move to become PM is also taking place during Diwali. The religious festival is celebrated across the world and symbolises the victory of light over darkness, and good over evil.

The Hindu Forum of Britain tweeted that Mr Sunak had written to the group sharing his best wishes with those celebrating Diwali, and said they are wishing him in return "every success on this auspicious day". The 1928 Institute, a University of Oxford-backed British Indian think tank, said it is "incredible" to see Mr Sunak "closing in" on the Tory premiership.

A spokesman said: "Many of our grandparents were British subjects and now to see someone of Indian heritage in the UK's highest office would be truly inspirational. Mr Sunak's rise shows how the British Indian community has come a long way, and we hope this will serve as an inspiration for the next generation; although some will still attack Rishi Sunak for his heritage.

"Breaking this glass ceiling is a major achievement but we need more diversity in our government. We will judge Rishi by his policies and hope that our shared values across the diaspora such as seva are part of his leadership."

READ MORE: EasyJet plane flying from Gatwick to Greece came just 10 FEET from drone.