Rishi Sunak launches bid to replace Boris Johnson

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Sunak shot from relative obscurity to fame when the just-ousted Prime Minister Boris Johnson fast-tracked him to the powerful post of Chancellor in 2020, a report by Ashis Ray

Indian-origin former Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British government Rishi Sunak on Friday formally launched his bid to become leader of the Conservative Party. If he succeeds, he will automatically become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

He tweeted: “I’m standing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and your prime minister.” He added: “Let’s restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country.” He also launched a website ready4rishi.com

Sunak posted along with the tweet a three-minute video setting out his intentions. He said: “I got into politics because I want everyone in this country to have those same opportunities, to be able to give their children a better future.”

He continued: “Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation. And the decisions we make today will decide whether the next generation of British people will also have the chance of a better future.”

Sunak shot from relative obscurity to fame when the just-ousted Prime Minister Boris Johnson fast-tracked him to the powerful post of Chancellor in 2020. He had been a Member of Parliament for less than five years. He became quite popular within months by providing financial support during the Covid pandemic, including furloughs to employees and soft loans to employers.

But the public liking for him was dented when this year he introduced taxes to reduce the government’s heavy borrowings. This was followed by controversy over his wife avoiding paying taxes in Britain and instead doing so at a lower rate in India from her dividends from shares in Infosys, the Bangalore-based software giant founded by her father N.R. Narayana Murthy. Sunak was then accused of retaining his Green Card in the US, where he had studied and worked.

It will not be surprising if his opponents in the upcoming competition cite his wife’s matter and the Green Card issue against him.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is joined by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak as they make their way up the staircase of No10 Downing Street to give a press conference on the Coronavirus. (Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street)

The son of a medical practitioner is, however, still one of the favourites in the contest, with probably Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, the current favourite.

Sunak resigned as chancellor on Tuesday, highlighting ideological and policy differences with Johnson. But also saying in his resignation letter that “the public rightly expect government to be conducted properly, competently and seriously”.

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