New UK finance chief Zahawi inherits economic crisis

“TOUGH DECISIONS”

“You don’t go into this job to have an easy life,” Zahawi added Wednesday.

“You make some tough decisions every day. And sometimes it’s easy to walk away but actually, it’s much tougher to deliver for the country.”

Zahawi denied threatening to quit the government if not given the top Treasury job.

“I want to make sure that not only do we rebuild the economy, we’ve got to grow the economy,” added the new chancellor of the exchequer.

Zahawi refused to comment to reporters as he left a meeting in 10 Downing Street Tuesday, including on whether he would uphold Sunak’s pleas for fiscal discipline against Johnson’s free-spending instincts.

In early London trading Wednesday, the benchmark FTSE 100 stocks index jumped 1.6 percent and the pound steadied against the dollar.

The FTSE had tumbled almost three percent and sterling slumped nearly two percent against the dollar Tuesday on growing fears of a global recession.

“Political risks do not seem to be having a major impact on UK assets,” noted Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.

“There are far too many bigger things on our minds right now – inflation, the economy slowing down, strikes.”

Britain is in the midst of nationwide strikes – affecting in particular the transport sector – as wages are eroded by the rocketing inflation.

Teachers and workers in the state-run National Health Service are mulling whether to join aviation, legal, postal and railway staff in walking out.

COVID-19 VACCINE ROLE

Zahawi won widespread praise for overseeing Britain’s pandemic vaccines rollout.

But like Sunak, his private wealth has drawn adverse attention, including when he claimed parliamentary expenses for heating his horse stables in 2013.

Zahawi was born in Baghdad to a Kurdish family who moved to Britain when he was a child, not speaking any English.

He has credited the poems of Philip Larkin for helping improve his knowledge of the English language before going on to study chemical engineering at University College London.

Zahawi is MP for Stratford-on-Avon, which includes William Shakespeare’s birthplace Stratford-upon-Avon.

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