Saturday, December 9, 2023

Racism? Rishi Sunak urged to back down by a former UK PM

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak may be the frontrunner to become the next UK PM, but Boris Johnson is urging him to stand down and let him come back to replace Liz Truss, reports in British media say.

Liz Truss had replaced Mr Johnson barely six weeks ago after defeating Rishi Sunak in the Conservative Party leadership race. Sunak, a former finance minister, is now the logical next choice, at least according to bookmakers.

But Boris Johnson is making a larger point to Conservative MPs — that only he can save the party from facing defeat in the elections due in December 2024, said a report in The Telegraph, London.

Opposition parties have been demanding snap polls citing loss of popularity of the ruling party, which has a brute majority in Parliament.

Boris Johnson is now “pressing Rishi Sunak to reach out and get back together”, said the Telegraph report, terming it “a remarkable olive branch after their public falling out”.

The party leadership election is next week, with a decision expected by Friday.

Forced into a corner by rising prices and failed bid to cut taxes, Liz Truss will go down in British history, so far, as the country’s shortest serving prime minister — she resigned on the 45th day of taking office, and may serve another week as caretaker PM.

Besides obvious contenders Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson, there remains in the contest Penny Mordaunt, the House of Commons leader.

It was a five-way fight initially, with defence minister Ben Wallace and finance minister Jeremy Hunt also in the mix. Both of them have since backed out. Ben Wallace might back Johnson.

A colourful Boris Johnson served three years as PM before a series of scandals — parties during Covid lockdown being one of them — led to his ouster. But he remains popular with a section of Conservative MPs and the party, who see him as the populist they need, no matter the wider electorate’s low opinion of him at present as per some polls.

The 58-year-old remains more popular than Liz Truss — a recent poll by a prominent agency showed — though most of the respondents had an unfavourable opinion of him as such.

But all eyes are on Rishi Sunak, a millionaire financial consultant and businessman who was Chancellor of the UK Exchequer (finance minister, in effect) during the Covid pandemic.

His riches have meant doubts if he can understand the choose-heating-or-eating economic situation of the people now.

Son of Indian-origin parents who came to the UK from Africa decades ago, he is married to Indian tech heiress Akshaya Murty, whose father NR Narayana Murthy founded Infosys.

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