Ready for Rishi? Sunak launches leadership bid

9 July 2022

1:50 AM

9 July 2022

1:50 AM

Rishi Sunak has this afternoon confirmed that he is running to be the next leader of the Conservative party. In a launch video published on social media, the former chancellor begins by telling the story of his grandmother coming to the UK from East Africa and starting a life here as he declares that ‘family is everything’ to him.

I’m standing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister.

Let’s restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country. #Ready4Rishi

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— Ready For Rishi (@RishiSunak) July 8, 2022

Sunak – who has also launched a leadership website under the name Ready for Rishi – has adopted the slogan: ‘restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country’. In a taster of what to expect from Sunak’s campaign, he suggests that he will prioritise fiscal discipline over immediate tax cuts – unlike some candidates: ‘Do we tell ourselves comforting fairytales that might make us feel better in the moment but will leave our children worse off for tomorrow?’

So, why has Sunak decided to move now? It’s no great surprise that he is running – but many of the senior figures expected to enter the race were planning to wait until next week to declare. While a handful of candidates have come out so far – including Suella Braverman and Tom Tugendhat – Sunak is the biggest name to announce his bid. It follows that it could give him a first-mover advantage over some of his former cabinet colleagues.

However, any move comes with risk. The slick video and campaign website suggest that Sunak has been thinking about this for a while – as opposed to coming up with the idea only this week. Sunak’s team has also managed to get a number of MPs to immediately come out and say they back the former chancellor. This includes Red Wall MP Jacob Young as well as Leader of the House Mark Spencer. Spencer is an interesting move given he was viewed as a Johnson loyalist.

Despite coming under pressure over his wife’s non-dom tax status and use of a green card, plenty of MPs believe Sunak is a serious contender in the contest and has a good chance of reaching the final two. However, he faces two obstacles.

First, as he alluded to in the video, Sunak is associated with high taxes rather than tax cuts and will be arguing for patience. That could be a hard sell if other candidates promise tax cuts immediately. Secondly, there are still Boris Johnson loyalists left in the party. Many of whom regarded Sunak with suspicion from early on – and feel that even more strongly after his decision to resign. It follows that there are plenty of MPs who would like to see Sunak fail.

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