Rishi Sunak, the guardian of economic orthodoxy | International

Rishi Sunak (Southampton, 42 years old) is the most Shakespearean character in the entire tragedy that has been the rise and fall of Boris Johnson. In fact, those loyal to the still British prime minister have not stopped maneuvering during the first phase of the primaries so that the Conservative deputies elect “anyone but Rishi”. That was the failed slogan – now he will face Foreign Minister Liz Truss for Johnson’s position.

When then Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid resigned from his post in February 2020, fed up with meddling in his department by Johnson’s then-star adviser Dominic Cummings, he and the Prime Minister agreed to place the young Sunak. Barely two months had passed since the landslide victory of the Conservatives in the general election. The newly inaugurated government had ambitious spending plans throughout the country, and the new minister, a Brexit believer with a brilliant academic and professional career, presented himself as the perfect candidate to dance to the same rhythm as his bosses.

Raised in the town of Southampton, he ended up doing university studies at Oxford, and later at Stanford (United States). During his years in California, he launched successful business ventures. But his financial peace of mind comes above all from his marriage to Akshata Murty, the daughter of the Indian billionaire founder of the Infosys service company. Earlier this year, Sunak’s political future hit shaky ground when the press revealed that his wife was still granted non-resident status to pay far less tax than she would have been entitled to. Shortly after, Murty announced that he would pay like any other UK resident. The hand of Johnson’s allies, who saw in Sunak a traitor willing to maneuver against the prime minister, was already guessed.

Johnson clung to Sunak’s complicity during the pandemic to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to alleviate the hardships of the British, with a job retention scheme that was a copy of the ERTE (Temporary Employment Regulation File) of the rest Europe, subsidies and tax aid. The conflict arose when, beginning to emerge from the health crisis, the prime minister wanted to happily continue spending to regain electoral steam and overcome his own popularity problem, already burdened by successive scandals. Sunak, the classic guardian of the fiscal orthodoxy that the Margaret Thatcher years imposed on the party, resisted the tax cuts demanded, not only by Johnson, but by many conservative deputies who saw his seats in danger.

His resignation, on July 5, was a key trigger to bring about the final fall of the prime minister. Sunak was the first to launch his candidacy for the job of leader of the Conservative Party, prompting Johnson’s faithful to confirm their suspicions that he had long been maneuvering against the prime minister. Ready For Rishi (Ready for Rishi) was the slogan proposed for a campaign that serves both to try to convince the conservatives that it is in better starting conditions than any other and to convey the idea that the time has come for the son of some immigrants middle-class Indians fill the post of prime minister. “Family is everything to me, and my family gave me opportunities they barely dreamed of. But it was the UK, our country, that gave them, and millions like them, a chance at a better future,” says Sunak in a carefully crafted and produced video, combining photos from his family, university and politician with a speech outlining his credentials for success.

The former Minister of Economy has easily navigated the first phase of the primaries, with the wind in his favor, without losing his status as favorite at any time. But it was a matter of currying favor with the Conservative MPs. He will now have to convince some affiliates who, according to the latest poll published this Tuesday by the YouGov company, are much more in favor of his rival in the competition, Liz Truss.

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