Rishi Sunak announces formal bid to become U.K. prime minister

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LONDON — Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced his bid to replace Liz Truss as the next leader of the Conservative Party, putting him on track to reach the final round of candidates in the race for prime minister.

“I want us to fix our economy, unite our party and deliver results for our country,” he said in a Sunday tweet.

It is the second time in less than four months that Sunak, 42, is competing for the role. Over the summer, the former UK chancellor reached the final round of the race to succeed Boris Johnson before losing out to Truss when the vote went to party members.

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Sunday’s announcement makes Sunak the first – and so far only – officially declared candidate to collect the 100 nominations from fellow MPs needed by 2pm on Monday to appear on the party’s ballot, according to public balance sheets. If more candidates pass the threshold, members of Parliament will select two to be voted on online by party members, with results expected on October 28.

As of Sunday, Sunak’s strongest challenger appeared to be Johnson, the former prime minister whose resignation in July triggered Britain’s current crisis of political chaos. In his own resignation as Johnson’s finance minister, which prompted a wave of others to quit and ultimately forced Johnson to resign, Sunak said the public deserved a government that behaved ” correct, competent and serious”.

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On Saturday, British media reports said the two men – who once worked side by side – were holding late-night talks, prompting speculation the pair could reach a deal to put aside their rivalry and form a joint ticket .

If eventually elected, Sunak would become the country’s first prime minister of South Asian origin. He was born in Southampton, England, to parents of Indian origin who emigrated from East Africa.

A number of Tory MPs and former Johnson allies, including former cabinet members Sajid Javid and Gavin Williamson, announced their support for Sunak. In a significant blow to Johnson’s chances, David Frost – who was responsible for negotiating Britain’s Brexit deal and was later given a seat in the House of Lords by Johnson – said on Saturday it was time to “move on”. from the former prime minister. .

Many of those supporters sought to portray the former finance minister as a stabilizing candidate capable of ending the chaos of recent months. Sunak’s loyalists also pointed out that during the previous leadership contest against Truss this summer, his candidacy received the most support from his fellow MPs.

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However, critics within the Conservative Party worry he is out of touch with voters and have accused him of disloyalty to Johnson – a key source of contention for many in the party’s core, among whom the former leader remains popular.

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Educated at one of the most prestigious in the UK private schools – like Johnson – Sunak has a glittering 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 caused the former chancellor some political discomfort during his leadership campaign in the summer.

And a video clip from a 2007 BBC documentary in which Sunak suggests he has no “working-class friends” is being circulated online as some Britons frown on the multitude of upper-class Tory contenders.

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However, Sunak remains popular among politicians in his own party, although he fares less well among national Conservative Party members, who favored Truss in September by 57.4% to 42.6%.

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To his supporters, Sunak is a firm hand on the economic tiller because he correctly predicted the market crash triggered by Truss’s policies when he cut taxes and sent the British pound crashing. He called Truss’ proposed economic reforms “fairytale” economics before she took office, an assessment that could lend credence to her image of fiscal responsibility.

One stain on his record, however, is his connection to the ‘Partygate’ scandal that toppled Johnson’s government. Like his boss, Sunak was fined by London’s Metropolitan Police while in office for attending meetings at 10 Downing Street while Britons were under severe government-imposed coronavirus lockdown restrictions. And some critics, such as former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, have noted that the UK’s record levels of inflation began during his time as chancellor.

As of Sunday morning, the number of Tory members publicly declared by the BBC put Sunak at 132, 55 for Johnson and 23 for Penny Mordaunt.



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