Rishi Sunak formalizes his candidacy for Downing Street

Former British finance minister Rishi Sunak announced on Sunday that he was running to become prime minister, on the eve of the closing of candidacies for this blitzkrieg, in which Boris Johnson is still awaiting his decision.

Rishi Sunak was the first to have reached the 100 Conservative MP sponsorships needed to continue the race on Friday evening, but the 42-year-old waited until Sunday morning to formalize his candidacy.

« The UK is a great country, but we are facing a deep economic crisis, » wrote the former banker, who served as finance minister from 2019 to last July, on Twitter.

“That’s why I’m running to be the leader of the Conservative Party and your next prime minister. I want to fix our economy, unite our party and act for our country,” he continued.

This new campaign for Downing Street opened on Thursday due to the resignation of Liz Truss, after just 44 days in office. At the beginning of September, she was elected by the members of the conservative party against Rishi Sunak, who will therefore perhaps have his revenge in the coming days.

After a busy political week, three possible candidates have emerged since Thursday: Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, who announced her candidacy on Friday and also former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who resigned in July.

Candidates have until Monday afternoon to obtain the hundred sponsorships.

According to the Guido Fawkes site, which closely follows the upheavals of the campaign, Rishi Sunak had Sunday, after the announcement of his candidacy, 139 sponsorships, ahead of Boris Johnson (75) and Penny Mordaunt (27).

Once the candidates have presented their endorsements, the 357 Conservative MPs will vote and, if there are two remaining candidates, the party’s 170,000 members will have to decide between them in an internet vote by October 28. In the event of a single candidate, he would enter Downing Street directly at the start of the week.

Intense negotiations

Negotiations within the deeply divided Conservative Party will therefore continue on Sunday.

Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson met on Saturday evening to, according to several media, discuss the possibility of a joint candidacy. These two men have been at loggerheads since July, when the resignation of Rishi Sunak, followed by around sixty others, led to the departure of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

This meeting obviously did not allow them to agree on a common ticket.

Boris Johnson will “clearly” present himself, one of his relatives, the current Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Jacob Rees-Mogg, told the BBC on Sunday.

According to a Sunday Telegraph poll, Boris Johnson would have every chance if the party’s voters had to decide between two candidates: just over half of them think he would be the best prime minister, according to this poll, while only 28% lean towards Rishi Sunak. And nearly 60% of those Tory voters believe Boris Johnson’s departure at the start of the summer was a mistake.

Penny Mordaunt, who denied on Sunday having had negotiations with Boris Johnson’s camp, said she was « confident » about her sponsorships.

« I think I’m in the best position to bring the party together, » she told the BBC. “People are fed up with our arguments,” she added. “What is important is that we rebuild stability […] and trust”.

“The way we got here is understandable: Brexit divisions, difficult decisions made during the pandemic, successive leadership elections etc. “, she also wrote in the daily The Telegraph. “Understandable, yes. Acceptable, no”.

« It is not acceptable that we now risk losing an election because we cannot work together, » continued Penny Mordaunt.

The next Prime Minister will govern a country plunged into a serious cost of living crisis, with inflation exceeding 10%. He will have to calm the markets, in the storm since the budget announcements of the Truss government at the end of September. He will also have to try to unite a party divided for years, two years before the legislative elections.

Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer reiterated his call for a snap election on Sunday. Labor is at its highest in the polls, after twelve years of conservative power. The next Conservative Prime Minister will be the fifth since 2016.

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