after Boris Johnson’s withdrawal, Rishi Sunak at the gates of Downing Street

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Beaten in early September by Liz Truss, the Conservative Rishi Sunak seems very close to Downing Street after Boris Johnson’s withdrawal from the race. A victory would make him Britain’s first head of government from an immigrant background.

Will the name of Britain’s new Prime Minister be revealed on Monday 24 October? If the successor to Liz Truss is to be appointed by October 28 at the latest by the Conservative Party, the vote could end sooner than expected, following Boris Johnson’s resignation. On Sunday, two candidates were officially declared: former Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, who has the necessary MP endorsements, and current Parliamentary Relations Minister Penny Mordaunt, who does not.

Boris Johnson, whose candidacy deeply divided his party, said in a statement on Sunday night that he had the 100 supporters needed to stand but had abandoned it because of divisions in the right-wing formation. “In recent days, I’ve come to the sad conclusion that it just wouldn’t be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively if you don’t have a united party in parliament,” explained the former head of government. , who had left Downing Street in early September, following a series of scandals.

The only candidate to achieve 100 sponsorships

Rishi Sunak, 42, an unsuccessful candidate this summer against Liz Truss, therefore now appears to be the heavy favorite in the race for Downing Street. The former minister announced his candidacy on Sunday, after an intense weekend of negotiations. “I will fix our economy, unite our party and act for our country,” he said on Twitter, pledging “integrity, professionalism and accountability”.


He is currently the only candidate with the required 100 supporters. The other candidate, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Penny Mordaunt, is far from it. He still has Monday morning to get there, a task that seems difficult. She let it be known on Sunday night that she was staying in the race and presented herself as the one who could unite the party.

If it gains the necessary support and remains despite the rival’s advance, members will decide between them in an online vote by Friday.

Otherwise, Rishi Sunak could be named prime minister as early as Monday night, the fifth since the Brexit vote in 2016, which opened a page of economic and political turbulence in Britain. This grandson of Indian immigrants would then be the first non-white to hold this position in the country.

“We will always be grateful” to Boris Johnson, he said on Twitter on Sunday night, recalling that his former boss, with whom he had been at loggerheads for months, had been the Brexit man, the one who set large-scale implementation of a vaccination campaign against Covid, and had led the country during “some of its most difficult challenges”. He also mentioned his support for Ukraine since the invasion of Russia.

“I would have had a good chance”

Boris Johnson nevertheless said he was confident that, had he chosen to be a candidate, he would have had “a good chance (…) of returning to Downing Street”, from which he had resigned back in July, pushed out by dozens of resignations in his government, including Rishi Sunak’s. He also said he was “well placed” to lead his camp during the next legislative elections scheduled for two years.

Although they do not support him, many Tory MPs have been careful to declare their affection for Boris Johnson, an eternal optimist who remains popular with the party’s base. But for many, including in his camp, he is too controversial to return to power. Especially as he is still the subject of a parliamentary inquiry, due to start soon, to establish whether he lied to parliament about “partygate”, those illegal parties in Downing Street during the anti-Covid lockdown.

Rishi Sunak, guardian of budget orthodoxy and workaholic, appears to them as a better choice as the country goes through a severe economic and social crisis, further exacerbated by Liz Truss’ catastrophic mistakes, which destabilized the markets and caused the book. The former Chancellor of the Exchequer had also regularly condemned Liz Truss’ economic plan this summer.

With AFP

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