It is the second time in less than four months that Sunak, 42, has competed for the role. Over the summer, the former UK Chancellor reached the final round of the race to succeed Boris Johnson before losing to Truss when the vote was put to party members.
Relatively unknown before his 2020 promotion as Johnson’s finance minister, Sunak has since developed a reputation for attention to budget detail and a pragmatic approach to managing the country’s finances, an image he forged in leading the country through the economic chaos unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic. Alongside Johnson, the pair became something of a contrasting double act at the top of the UK government: While the prime minister appealed to the audience with his unique humour, Sunak played the role of the no-nonsense accountant in the room.
Sunday’s announcement makes Sunak the first – and, so far, only – officially declared candidate to have garnered the 100 nominations from fellow lawmakers required by 2 p.m. Monday to appear on the party’s ballot, according to public counts. If more than one candidate crosses the threshold, MPs will select two who will be put to an online vote by party members, with results expected on October 28.
Sunak’s strongest challenger on Sunday appeared to be Johnson, the former prime minister whose resignation in July sparked the current political chaos in Britain. In its own resignation as Johnson’s finance minister, prompting a wave of others to resign and eventually forcing Johnson to resign, Sunak said the public deserved a government that conducted itself “properly, competently and seriously”.
Saturday, British media reports said the pair – who once worked side-by-side – were holding late-night talks, suggesting the two could strike a deal to put their rivalry aside and form a joint ticket.
If eventually elected, Sunak would become the country’s first prime minister South Asian descent. He was born in Southampton, England to parents of Indian descent who had emigrated from East Africa.
In a major coup for the Sunak camp, Suella Braverman – a rising star on the party right whose resignation as interior minister last week catalyzed the resignation of Truss – also argued the former finance minister, arguing that he offers stability amid the “desperate situation” the country currently finds itself in.
“I need a leader who will put our house in order and put a firm, careful hand on the tiller. That person, for me, is Rishi Sunak,” she wrote in The telegraph Sunday newspaper.
And in a blow to Johnson’s chances, David Frost – who was responsible for brokering Britain’s Brexit deal and was later won a seat in the House of Lords by Johnson – said on Saturday he was time to “move on” from the former prime minister. minister.
Boris Johnson will always be a hero for delivering Brexit.
But we have to move on. It is simply not fair to risk repeating the chaos and confusion of last year.
The Conservative party needs to rally around a capable leader who can put forward a Conservative platform. That’s to say @RishiSunak. 1/2
— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) October 22, 2022
Many Sunak supporters seek to cast the former finance minister as a stabilizing candidate capable of ending the chaos of recent months. Sunak loyalists have also pointed out that in the previous leadership race against Truss this summer, his candidacy received the most support from fellow parliamentarians.
However, critics within the Conservative Party fear he is out of touch with voters and has accused him of disloyalty to Johnson – a key source of contention for many of the party’s rank and file among whom the former leader remains popular.
Trained at one of Britain’s most prestigious private schools — like Johnson — Sunak has a stellar resume, with degrees from Oxford University and Stanford University and a stint at Goldman Sachs. One of Britain’s richest politicians, he is married to Indian tech heiress Akshata Murthy, whose tax affairs got the former chancellor into political trouble. discomfort during his leadership campaign this summer.
And a video clip of a 2007 BBC documentaryin which Sunak suggests he has no ‘working class friends’, recirculates online as some Britons disapprove of the range of upper-class Conservative candidates.
Nonetheless, Sunak remains popular among politicians in his own party, although he fares less well among national members of the Conservative Party, who favored Truss in September by 57.4% to 42.6%.
To his supporters, Sunak is a firm hand on the economic helm, as he correctly predicted the market crisis triggered by Truss’s policies when she cut taxes and sent the pound plummeting. He called the economic reforms proposed by Truss “fairy tale” economy before he takes office, an assessment that is likely to accredit his image of budgetary responsibility.
A stain on his record, however, is his connection to the “Party of the Party” scandal that overthrew Johnson’s government. Like his boss, Sunak was fined by London Metropolitan Police while in office for attending rallies at 10 Downing Street while Britons were under severe government sanctions coronavirus lockdown restrictions. And some critics, like the former leader of the Conservative Party Iain Duncan Smithnoted that record levels of UK inflation began during his term as Chancellor.
From Sunday morning, the The BBC count publicly declared Tory MPs gave Sunak 132, Johnson 55 and Penny Mordaunt 23.