Rishi Sunak: The British Prime Minister forms an inclusive government to seek peace among the conservatives | International
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After an earthquake, it is advisable to go to a safe place. Rishi Sunak is aware that the peace achieved in the British Conservative Party, after a week on the brink of civil war, is precarious. The main purpose of it, along with the need to bring stability back to the UK economy, is to ‘unite’ the country and the Tories, as he himself has recognized.
In addition to confirming Jeremy Hunt, the moderate and centrist deputy who desperately appointed the resigned Prime Minister, Liz Truss, to stop the chaos caused in the markets by her tax cut, Sunak has launched a message of integration and continuity in the formation of the new Government. Integration, because he has kept and incorporated heavyweights who bet on Boris Johnson until the last minute. And because he has confirmed in his position the third rival of the contest, Penny Mordaunt. Continuity, because practically all the policies of the Truss Executive – except for the economic strategy – are maintained: Brexit, with all its consequences; unconditional support for the Government of Ukraine; and tightening of migration policies. These are the main appointments.
“In times of desolation, never move.” The Ignatian rule also holds for a Hindu prime minister. Sunak has been Minister of Economy until almost four months ago, and due to his training and experience, he has direct knowledge of the current state of the country. He will be a very involved head of government with whom he is traditionally the number two and his neighbor, residing at number 11 Downing Street. He has confirmed what was sung: Hunt will remain in his position. His main task now – also Sunak’s – will be to reassure the markets next Monday with a detailed fiscal and budget plan that will include freezing or even raising taxes and further cuts. “Hard decisions,” in Sunak’s words.
Truss’s foreign secretary, and her right-hand man when she held that post, will continue to head that department. James Cleverly opted for Boris Johnson, and did not change sides even when it was already clear that the popular politician was about to carry out one of the usual scares of him. Sunak leaves the continuity of foreign policy in his hands. Translation: unconditional support for Ukraine and a duel of strength with the EU – unless the new prime minister imposes flexibility and pragmatism – regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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The third candidate to lead the Conservative Party never reached the 100 endorsements of conservative deputies necessary to enter the primaries. She continues to be considered by many colleagues as a bridge of harmony between the right wing of the formation and the more moderate ones. Sunak has integrated her into her team, confirming her in the position she already held in the Truss Government: Leader of the House of Commons (a position equivalent to the Spanish Secretary for Relations with the Courts, but with a ministerial rank) .
She will be the new Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Quite a surprise, because she was Truss’s right-hand man during her brief and ill-fated tenure, as well as her friend and confidante. Many deputies blame her for the chaos that the conservative parliamentary group experienced, with contradictory voting orders, the night before the former prime minister ended up resigning. All a sign that Sunak wants to close wounds.
Also confirmed as Defense Minister. He did not have it all with him, because he was one of the first members of the Truss Cabinet to show his unconditional support for Johnson. His determination to keep the promise made by his previous boss to raise defense spending to 3% made things complicated for Sunak, who had not wanted to publicly commit to that budget increase. His unconditional and intensive support for the Government of Ukraine – his visits were almost weekly – must have influenced the decision to keep him in the Government.
The favorite politician of the right wing of the party. As Attorney General of the State with Johnson, she justified with her legal reports the most extreme decisions of that Government. With Truss she held the Home Office, until her resignation hastened the former prime minister’s downfall. Sunak has put her back in this position, and she sends a message to the Eurosceptic sector that she will continue to impose a strong hand on border control.
The eternal survivor. One of those politicians who goes through the different departments without cleaning anything, and sometimes leaving a stain, like the disaster that was the evacuation of British personnel from Afghanistan when he was Foreign Secretary under Johnson. His great virtue: to spot before anyone else where the winning wind is blowing. He was one of the first to support Sunak, already in the primaries last summer. He will be Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister, a more honorary than effective position, which he has held before.
The party’s most hopeful deputy, for many of its veterans, for the firmness of her approaches, the rigor and seriousness that she displays and for a conservative discourse that enters fully into the cultural wars with the left. Olukemi Olufunto Badenoch, 42, a Londoner of Nigerian parents, will serve as the Minister for International Trade. Her support for Sunak helped to definitively tilt many deputies in her favor.
No one has staged greater political stunts in recent weeks than Zahawi. Johnson appointed him Economy Minister for a few hours, after Sunak accelerated the collapse of that government with his resignation. He was in charge of asking the then prime minister to resign, to leave “out of dignity”. Last week he again proclaimed his support for Johnson, and minutes after his candidate threw in the towel, he sided with Sunak. He will be a minister without portfolio in the new government. Within where everything is decided, to have it watched, but without responsibilities.
If one had to look for a similarity to define Gove, it could be the Rubalcaba of English conservatism. He is the indispensable politician, due to his astuteness, his rhetorical skill and his ability to give seriousness and rigor to the current that prevails at that time in his party, call it Brexit or fiscal responsibility. He supported Sunak from the beginning. He will be the minister for Territorial Leveling, the great objective of the 2019 electoral program.
Former Minister for Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden is probably the most unknown to the public of the new additions to the Government. But he may end up being the most relevant, due to his long friendship and complicity with Sunak. He will be the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a ministerial position that, under that archaic name, hides a powerful position, like that of the Spanish Ministry of the Presidency, which coordinates the tasks of the different departments and controls the access door to the prime minister .
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