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Rishi Sunak announces official bid to become British prime minister

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LONDON — Former UK finance minister Rishi Sunak has announced his bid to replace Liz Truss as the next leader of the Conservative Party, setting her on track to take her to the final round of nominations in the race for prime minister.

“I want to fix our economy, unite our Party and deliver for our country,” he said. Sunday tweet.

Sunak, 42, competed for the role for the second time in less than four months. Over the summer, the former UK chancellor raced to the final lap to replace Boris Johnson before losing to Truss when party members voted.

Not much known before Johnson’s promotion as finance minister in 2020, Sunak has since earned a reputation for his attention to financial details and a pragmatic approach to managing the nation’s finances. coronavirus pandemic. Alongside Johnson, the duo became a contrasting dual act at the top of the British government: the Prime Minister addressed the public with his unique humor, while Altar played the role of the sensible accountant in the room.

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Sunday’s announcement makes Sunak the first and so far the only officially announced candidate to collect the 100 parliamentary nominations that must appear on the party’s ballot by 2pm Monday, according to public figures. If more than one candidate passes the threshold, Members of Parliament will select two candidates to be subject to online voting by party members, with results expected on October 28.

On Sunday, Sunak’s strongest opponent appeared to be former prime minister Johnson, whose resignation this July kicked off Britain’s current bout of political chaos. Sunak said that in Johnson’s resignation as finance minister, which caused others to resign and ultimately forced Johnson to resign, the people deserved a government that led him “properly, competently and seriously”.

On Saturday, British media reports said the two men who once worked side by side were meeting late at night, prompting speculation that the two could come to an agreement that they could put the competition aside and form a joint ticket.

If eventually elected, Sunak will become the country’s first prime minister of South Asian descent. He was born in Southampton, England, to a family of Indian descent who had immigrated from East Africa.

A number of Conservative lawmakers and former Johnson allies, including former cabinet members Sajid Javid and Gavin WilliamsonThey declared their support for Sunak.

In a major blow to the altar camp, Suella Braverman, a rising star within the party’s right wing and whose resignation as interior minister last week hastened Truss’ resignation, also threw her weight behind the former finance minister, saying, “The dreadful straits the country is in right now.

“I need a leader who will put our house in order and apply a steady, careful hand to the tiller. This person is Rishi Sunak to me,” he wrote in The Telegraph on Sunday.

And in a significant blow to Johnson’s luck, David Frost, who was responsible for negotiating the UK’s Brexit deal and was later given a seat in the House of Lords by Johnson, announced on Saturday that it was time to “go ahead” from the former prime minister. minister.

Many of Sunak’s supporters are trying to portray the former finance minister as a stabilizing candidate who can end the chaos of recent months. Altar supporters noted that in the previous leadership contest against Truss this summer, his candidacy garnered the most support from his colleagues in the legislature.

However, critics within the Conservative Party worried about his loss of contact with the electorate and accused him of disloyalty to Johnson – a major source of contention for many grassroots members of the party over whom the former leader remained unpopular.

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Educated at one of the most prestigious universities in England Private schools – like Johnson – have a sparkling resume with Altar, degrees from Oxford University and Stanford University, and a stint at Goldman Sachs. One of the wealthiest British politicians is married to Indian tech heiress Akshata Murthy, whose tax affairs caused the former chancellor some political disturbances during the summer’s leadership campaign.

And a video clip from a 2007 BBC documentary in which Sunak claims he doesn’t have “working-class friends” is circulating online as some Britons frown on the lineup of upper-class Conservative contestants.

However, Sunak remains popular with politicians of his own party, although less successful among the Conservative Party’s national affiliation, which favored Truss at 57.4 percent to 42.6 percent in September.

Why Liz Truss resigned as UK prime minister: A guide to chaos

For his supporters, Altar is a steady hand on the economic tiller, as he accurately predicts the market crisis caused by Truss’ policies that cut taxes and devalued the British pound. Before he took office, he called the economic reforms Truss proposed as a “fairytale” economy; this was probably an assessment that would give credence to his image of fiscal responsibility.

But one blemish on his track record is his connection to the “Partygate” scandal that toppled Johnson’s government. Like his boss, Altar was fined by the London Metropolitan Police 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, noted that Britain’s record high inflation levels began when he was chancellor.

Earlier on Sunday, the BBC’s publicly announced Conservative MP count gave Sunak 132, 55 for Johnson and 23 for Penny Mordaunt.