This is the 42-year-old Sunak’s second bid for the role in less than four months. Over the summer, the former British prime minister entered the final round of his bid to replace Boris Johnson, but lost to Truss in the vote for party membership.
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Sunday’s announcement made Sunak the first — and so far the only — candidate to be officially announced, according to public tally, who had collected 100 nominations from other lawmakers by 2 p.m. Monday, to appear on the party’s ballot. If more than one candidate passes the threshold, MPs will elect two to be voted online by party members, with results expected to be announced on October 1. 28.
As of Sunday, Sunak’s biggest challenger appeared to be former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose resignation in July sparked the current political chaos in Britain. Sunak’s own resignation as Johnson’s finance minister sparked a wave of others who resigned and eventually forced Johnson to resign, and Sunak said the public deserved a government that acted “appropriately, competently and seriously”.
British media reports on Saturday that the pair, who once worked side-by-side, were in late-night talks, sparked speculation the pair could reach a deal to set aside their rivalry for a joint ticket.
If elected, Sunak will become the country’s first South Asian prime minister. He was born in Southampton, England, to Indian parents who immigrated from East Africa.
Some Tory MPs and former Johnson allies, including former cabinet members Sajid Javid and Gavin Williamson, has announced support for Sunak. In a major blow to Johnson’s chances, David Frost, who negotiated the Brexit deal and was later awarded a seat in the House of Lords by Johnson, declared on Saturday that it was time to “move on” from the former prime minister.
Boris Johnson will always be the hero for delivering Brexit.
But we have to move on. To risk repeating the chaos and confusion of last year is simply not true.
The Conservative Party must support a capable leader who can implement the Conservative Party’s plan.That is @RishiSunak. 1/2
— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) October 22, 2022
Many of those supporters sought to paint the former finance minister as a stable candidate who could end the chaos of recent months. Sunak’s advocates also point to the fact that his candidacy had the most support from his parliamentary colleagues in the last leadership race against Truce this summer.
However, critics within the Conservative Party fear he is out of touch with voters and accuse him of being disloyal to Johnson – a key source of contention among many of the party’s grassroots members, in which the former leader remains popular.
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Get an education at one of the UK’s most prestigious schools At a private school like Johnson, Sunak has a stellar resume, with degrees from Oxford and Stanford and a stint at Goldman Sachs. One of Britain’s richest politicians, he is married to Indian tech heiress Akshata Murthy, whose tax affairs have caused some political discomfort during the former chancellor’s summer leadership campaign .
A video clip from a 2007 BBC documentary circulated online in which Sunak suggested he didn’t have any “working-class friends” as some Britons dismissed a string of high-society Conservative contenders.
Nonetheless, Sunak remains popular with politicians in his party, although he has fared less well among the Conservative Party’s national membership, who backed Truss by 57.4% to 42.6% in September.
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For his supporters, Sunak was a stabilizing hand for the economy, as he correctly predicted the market crisis triggered by Truss’ policies when she cut taxes and sent the pound tumbling. Before he took office, Truss referred to his proposed economic reforms as “fairytale” economics, an assessment that might give credence to his image of fiscal responsibility.
One blemish on his record, however, is his link to the “Party Gate” scandal that overthrew Johnson’s government. Like his boss, Sunak was fined by London’s Metropolitan Police for attending a rally at 10 Downing Street during his tenure, while the Briton was subject to the government’s draconian coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Some critics, such as former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, point to record levels of inflation in Britain that began during his tenure as prime minister.
As of early Sunday, the BBC’s tally of Conservative MPs put Sunak at 132, Johnson at 55 and Penny Mordout at 23.