Rishi Sunak, the British Indian former minister who has now formally launched his campaign to be elected the new Conservative Party leader and UK Prime Minister, has emerged as an early frontrunner in the leadership race.
The 42-year-old son-in-law of Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy has received the public backing of several senior Tory members of Parliament, including Commons leader Mark Spencer, former party chairman Oliver Dowden and former Cabinet minister Liam Fox., a PTI report said.
The overriding view is that pro-Brexit Sunak is the candidate that can unite the divided governing party and is best placed to take on the huge economic challenges facing the UK as a former Chancellor, as per a PTI report.
His position became even stronger as one of the Cabinet ministers seen as a potential frontrunner, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, formally ruled himself out of the race.
“I ran the toughest department in government during the toughest times when we faced the nightmare of COVID,” said Sunak, in his #Ready4Rishi social media campaign launch video.
“Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation. Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions,? reads his message on the Ready4Rishi campaign website.
There has been some criticism from outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s loyalists, accusing the former Downing Street neighbour of plotting against his former boss because the sheer slickness of the video indicates his campaign was in the works for some time.
However, Sunak’s camp has been asserting that the video with very personal references to his humble Indian-origin family heritage, going back to his maternal grandmother Sraksha’s migration to Britain from east Africa, was put together in the hours after Johnson’s resignation became imminent.
According to Oddschecker UK, Sunak is in a clear lead with the bookies followed by other prospective candidates yet to declare such as UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace — before he announced his intention not to run.
(With PTI inputs)