(CTN News) – Rishi Sunak, a former finance minister of the United Kingdom, declared his intention to succeed Liz Truss as the future leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister of the United Kingdom early on Sunday. By dusk, his triumph seemed within reach, albeit not yet certain.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Boris Johnson, who had been his fiercest opponent all day, said he would not run for the position from which he was fired in July.
Johnson had tried fruitlessly to get enough support from Conservative members of Parliament but never publicly declared his campaign.
The leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mourdant, ran for the leadership position on Sunday but fell short of Rishi Sunak and Johnson, despite picking up some of Johnson’s supporters.
Fast-paced leadership competition is an unexpected sport in Britain. If no significant developments exist, Rishi Sunak may be chosen as early as Monday afternoon.
Who is Rishi Sunak? What to know about the U.K. prime minister favourite.
Rishi Sunak would become the first prime minister of colour or of South Asian heritage in the nation if he finally prevailed. He was born in Southampton, England, to East African immigrants of Indian descent.
Rishi Sunak tweeted on Sunday, “I want to improve our economy, unify our Party, and deliver for our nation.”
Sunak, 42, has applied for the position twice in less than four months. The former chancellor of the exchequer advanced to the final round in the contest to replace Johnson before Truss won the party members’ vote.
Rishi Sunak was relatively unknown before being appointed Johnson’s finance minister in 2020, but he has since earned a reputation for paying close attention to the small print and employing a practical approach to managing the nation’s finances.
Sunak built this reputation by guiding the nation through the economic chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
At the head of the British government, he and Johnson formed a contrasting duo: Sunak acted as the logical accountant while the prime minister played to the public’s sense of humour.
According to publicly available counts, Sunak became the first and, as of this writing, the only officially announced contender to have gathered the 100 nominations from fellow MPs necessary by Monday at 2 p.m. to be on the party’s ballot.
If more than one candidate clears the cutoff, parliamentarians will choose two to submit to an online vote by party members; the results are anticipated on October 28.
As of Sunday morning, Johnson, the former prime minister whose departure in July sparked Britain’s current period of political uncertainty, seemed to be Sunak’s greatest rival.
Rishi Sunak said in a tweet that contained his formal letter of resignation as Johnson’s finance minister that the public deserved a government that conducted itself “properly, competently, and seriously.”
Sunak’s resignation sparked a wave of other resignations that ultimately forced Johnson to step down.
The two men, who formerly worked side by side, were reportedly having late-night discussions on Saturday, according to stories in the British media, which sparked anticipation that they would agree to lay their rivalry to rest.
Rishi Sunak has received backing from several Conservative legislators and erstwhile Johnson friends, including former cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Gavin Williamson.
Suella Braverman, a rising star in the right wing of the party whose resignation as home secretary last week sparked Truss’s departure, has thrown her support behind the former finance minister, saying he offers stability amid the “dire straits” the nation is currently in. This is a significant victory for the Sunak camp.
“I need a leader who will organize our home and operate the tiller with caution and steadiness. Rishi Sunak is such a guy, in my opinion, she wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
Johnson later appointed David Frost to the House of Lords, and Frost said on Saturday that it was time to “move on” from the former prime minister. Frost was in charge of negotiating the Brexit agreement.
Many of Sunak’s supporters want to present him as a calming candidate who can stop the unrest of recent months.
Loyalists of Sunak also noted that during this summer’s leadership race against Truss, his campaign earned the greatest backing from his parliamentary colleagues.
But his detractors inside the Conservative Party fear that he is out of touch with people and have accused him of betraying Johnson, who is still well-liked by many of the party’s grassroots members.
Sunak received his education at Winchester, one of Britain’s most elite private institutions.
He also has degrees from Stanford and the University of Oxford and has worked for Goldman Sachs.
He is one of the richest British MPs and is wed to Akshata Murthy, an Indian computer heiress whose tax situation gave Rishi Sunak some political pause during his leadership campaign in the summer.
Additionally, since some Britons disapprove of the assortment of upper-class Conservative candidates, a video clip from a 2007 BBC programme in which Sunak claims he has no “working-class pals” is making the rounds online.
Why Liz Truss resigned as U.K. prime minister
Sunak is still well-liked among Conservative lawmakers, even though the party’s national membership backed Truss in September by a margin of 57.4% to Rishi Sunak’s 42.6 percent.
His followers see Rishi Sunak as a firm hand on the economic tiller since he foresaw the market problem that Truss’s actions caused when she cut taxes and caused the British pound to fall.
Before Truss assumed office, he referred to her economic reform proposals as “fairy tale” economics, which probably helped reinforce his reputation for sound financial management.
However, his involvement in the “Partygate” affair that brought down Johnson’s administration is a stain on his record.
While in office, Rishi Sunak received a fine from the Metropolitan Police of London for participating in events at 10 Downing Street while the nation of Britain was subject to rigorous coronavirus lockdown regulations.
And other detractors have pointed out that Rishi Sunak’s tenure as chancellor coincided with the start of the UK’s record-high inflation rates, including former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith.