Can Rishi Sunak become the new British Prime Minister?

Announcing his bid to run again for Prime Minister of the UK, former Finance Secretary and MP Rishi Sunak said Sunday (October 23) he wanted to repair the economy and unite the Conservative Party.

Sunak had previously thrown his hat in the ring in July, raising the possibility of Britain’s first non-white Indian-born prime minister. However, after a few weeks of campaigning, Conservative Party members voted Liz Truss over Sunak. After Truss resigns, can Sunak become the next UK Prime Minister?

How can Rishi Sunak become PM?

Unlike in July 2022, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned and Sunak joined the contest for the leadership, the Conservative party has drastically reduced the length of the process to select the new party leader and prime minister.

By Monday, candidates must prove they have the support of at least 100 MPs. The threshold for setting up support may have been kept high to speed up the process. If only one person achieves this, they are directly elected. If more than one person gets the required support, the Conservative MPs vote and the person with the fewest number of MPs supporting them is eliminated.

Conservative MPs will then vote between two candidates for their preferred choice. Finally, other Conservative Party members will vote online, and the winner will become party leader and new UK Prime Minister by Friday.

Does Sunak have enough MPs to support him?

By Sunday, a number of prominent leaders had pledged their support to him. Recently ousted Home Secretary Suella Braverman was quoted by the BBC as saying: “I want a leader for our party and country to inspire hope for a brighter future and lift our spirits. And I need a leader to put our house in order and put a steady, careful hand at the helm. To me, that person is Rishi Sunak.”

Kemi Badenoch, Secretary of State for International Trade, who was also running for prime minister in July, wrote an article saying: “I worked with Rishi at the Treasury when he was chancellor. Like all work colleagues, we had our disagreements, which I elaborated on when we were competitors in the same competition… Now it’s imperative that I have to let people know about the decisions he made that I knew he had made were absolutely right.”

The BBC’s list of public statements of support currently estimates 144 MPs for Sunak, 56 for Boris Johnson and 23 for Penny Mordaunt, leader of the House of Commons or House of Commons. Although Boris Johnson has not officially declared his intention to run, it is widely expected that he will. The BBC also reported that Sunak and Johnson recently met and Sunak supporter Dominic Raab said the two had “a very good conversation about the need for unity”.

But what happened to Sunak the last time?

As early as July, Rishi Sunak emerged as the favorite among the Conservative Party MPs. He and Liz Truss were the most popular candidates and had a few weeks to take part in campaigns and public debates to reach around 160,000 party members across the UK.

During this period, Sunak advocated and warned against a policy approach based on reducing government lending inflation stay high. Truss was seen as more advantageous over traditional voters, while Sunak was often targeted for his personal wealth, with the perception that he was out of touch. Truss won the election by around 80,000 votes to Sunak’s 60,000.

However, dissatisfaction only rose over Truss’ few weeks in office. Economic policies introduced after her election were not well received, particularly a tax cut plan which was immediately withdrawn. The financial plan created massive market volatility, weighing on the currency and raising mortgage rates. The British central bank, the Bank of Englandwas forced to intervene in the debt market.

As a result, the buyer’s remorse could turn in Sunak’s favor. He has stressed his record as Chancellor of the Exchequer during the pandemic. Although his plans were not universally supported, his presence and experience are seen as relatively reassuring compared to Johnson and Truss, both of whom were in and out of office.

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