Former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak launches his candidacy to lead the British Conservative Party | International
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Politics is a cruel game. Rishi Suna, 42, the former UK Finance Minister who caused the accelerated collapse of Boris Johnson last Tuesday with his resignation, has been the first to present his official candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Ready For Rishi (Ready for Rishi), the slogan proposed for a campaign that, obviously, had been preparing for weeks, serves both to try to convince the conservatives that it is in better starting conditions than its competitors, and to convey the idea that the time has come time for the son of middle-class Indian immigrants to become prime minister. “Family is everything to me, and my family gave me opportunities they barely dreamed of. But it was the UK, our country, that gave them, and millions like them, a chance at a better future,” says Sunak in a carefully crafted and produced video, combining photos from his family, university and politician with a speech outlining his credentials for success.
When then Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid resigned from his post in February 2020, fed up with the meddling in his department by then-star Johnson adviser Dominic Cummings, he and the PM agreed to place the young Sunak in the post. . Barely two months had passed since the landslide victory of the Conservatives in the general election. The new government had ambitious spending plans throughout the country, and the new minister, a Brexit believer with a brilliant academic and professional career, presented himself as the perfect candidate to dance to the same rhythm as his bosses.
Raised in the town of Southampton, he ended up studying at Oxford, and later at Stanford (USA). During his years in California, he launched successful business ventures. But his financial peace of mind comes above all from his marriage to Akshata Murty, the daughter of the Indian billionaire founder of the Infosys service company. At the beginning of the year, Sunak’s political future hit shaky ground when the press revealed that his wife was still granted non-resident status, to pay much less taxes than she would have been entitled to. Shortly after, Murty announced that he would pay like any other UK resident. The hand of Johnson’s allies who saw in Sunak a traitor willing to maneuver against the prime minister was already guessed.
Johnson clung to the complicity of Sunak, during the pandemic, to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to alleviate the hardships of the British, with a Job Retention Scheme that was a copy of the ERTEs of the rest of Europe, subsidies and aid tax. The conflict arose when, as the health crisis began to emerge, the prime minister wanted to happily continue spending to regain electoral steam and overcome his own popularity crisis, already overwhelmed by successive scandals. Sunak, the classic guardian of the fiscal orthodoxy that the Thatcher years imposed on the party, resisted the tax cuts demanded, not only by Johnson, but by many conservative deputies who saw his seats in danger.
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“Do we face the current moment with honesty, seriousness and firmness? Or do we tell ourselves comforting fairy tales that make us feel better now, but ruin our children’s future?” Sunak asks rhetorically in a campaign video in which he intends to present himself as the serious and responsible candidate before the galloping inflation suffered by the United Kingdom and the recession that the Bank of England has already announced for before the end of the year.
Sunak, who has already garnered solid support such as that of former Conservative Party president Oliver Dowden, former Commerce Minister Liam Fox, or deputies such as Laura Trott and Angela Richardson, has begun to send messages of possible pacts to his rivals, to rule out candidates and join forces. It is estimated that more than fifteen applicants may apply.
Under normal circumstances, the primary process would last for at least two months. But the idea of Johnson remaining in Downing Street for a long time as caretaker prime minister makes the party very nervous. The executive of the 1922 Committee (the body that brings together the deputies Tories without position in the Government, in charge of organizing the primary process and election of the new leader) meets this Monday, and its purpose is to change the rules, compress the deadlines for the parliamentary group to carry out discard votes, and achieve at least that the two final candidates – who will then have to campaign among the affiliates – are elected before July 21, when the current session of the British Parliament concludes. The idea, if the script is fulfilled, would be to be able to have a new leader of the Conservative Party and a new prime minister by the beginning of September.
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