Rishi Sunak, the former foreign minister who lost his leadership bid to Liz Truss last month, said he will run to replace her.
“I want to fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country,” Sunak said in a tweet on Sunday.
Liz Truss’s resignation on Thursday triggered a leadership contest that will see her become the shortest-term prime minister in British history when she leaves this week. Sunak already has the support of enough members of parliament to give him a certain place in her career.
He may find himself running against his former boss and prime minister, Boris Johnson, who has yet to announce his candidacy. His supporters claim that he has more than the required 100 backers, but only about half that number he has publicly stated.
The only other candidate so far is the leader of the commons, Penny Mordaunt. She only has 22 named sponsors, by Bloomberg’s count, but she told Sky News that she was “confident in our numbers” and “I’m in the best position to bring this party together.” She confirmed that she would be keeping the current chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, in her position and that she had sat with him at the Treasury and been briefed on the state of the country’s finances.
Investors are likely to sell the pound and gilts in the event of a Johnson or Mordaunt win, while Sunak’s coronation would likely support UK assets for a while. Neither Sunak nor Mordaunt have tabled a policy program for the government and it is unclear if either candidate will do so before the race is over, which will be Monday night, or put to an online vote with the Tory party. Usually for Friday.
Johnson and Sunak met last night amid speculation of a deal between the two, despite bitterness over Sunak’s role in Johnson’s downfall as prime minister. There was no apparent outcome of those discussions and no mention of Johnson in Sunak’s announcement.
Home Secretary Grant Shapps was among the leading Conservatives who supported Sunak on Sunday, following Cabinet Minister Kemi Badenoch on Saturday.
Steve Baker, a Northern Ireland minister and Brexite leader who backed Johnson in the 2019 general election, said another prime ministerial role for Johnson would be a “guaranteed disaster”. Baker told Sky News the country needs “stability and professionalism” and said Johnson would be distracted by an ethics investigation into topics including partying during coronavirus lockdowns.
The former prime minister also garnered support on Sunday, including from Nadhim Zahawi, a short-lived chancellor for Johnson before telling the prime minister in July to “go now.”
“He made the right decisions, whether it was ordering more vaccines before more waves of covid, arming Ukraine early against the advice of some, or resigning for the sake of unity. But now Britain needs him back,” Zahawi wrote on Twitter.
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg endorsed Johnson on the BBC, saying: “Clearly he will come forward, there is a lot of support for him.”
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