UK gets new PM: Why Rishi Sunak lost to Liz Truss

UK gets new PM: Why Rishi Sunak lost to Liz Truss
The United Kingdom got its new prime minister today amid a looming cost-of-living crisis. The ruling Conservative Party declared the results at 5:00 pm IST sealing the fate of foreign secretary Liz Truss and her rival former finance minister Rishi Sunak. Liz Truss decimated Rishi Sunak to become Boris Johnson’s successor and leader of the Conservative Party.
With her election by 2,00,000 Tory members (mostly wealthy, old, white and male), Britain has got its third female prime minister following Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher. Why were cards stacked against British Indian leader Rishi Sunak? Does the result reflect the mood of the public?Let’s analyse these questions in detail:Rishi Sunak accepts defeatRishi Sunak, the ex-chancellor of the exchequer in the Johnson government, had all but conceded defeat before the result. Sunak had told BBC that he looks forward to “supporting the Conservative government in whatever capacity”, adding that he will continue as an MP.
He also did not rule out running for the Conservative Party leader again. “We’ve just finished this campaign. I’d say… I need to recover from this one,” he told BBC on his future prospects.
Why was Rishi Sunak so pessimistic?It wasn’t always so. In July, Sunak’s resignation triggered a series of exits from the UK government, and eventually led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s downfall. Sunak became the first to enter the race for 10 Downing Street with his campaign video ‘Ready for Rishi’.
The video made him appear to some quarters as a backstabber who caused Johnson’s resignation for his own ambition. Although he had an advantage as he threw his hat early in the ring and was also endorsed by four former chief whips, 42-year-old Sunak soon started trailing behind Truss. As per YouGov Conservative membership poll, 47-year-old Truss enjoyed a lead of 69 per cent to Sunak’s 31 per cent from 29 July- 2 August.
Till 17 August, Truss stayed ahead of Sunak with 66 per cent votes to his 34 per cent. Several independent surveys and polls have also pitched Truss ahead of Sunak as she remains the preferred choice among Tory members. “Those interested in polling and the recent past will note that we originally found Truss ahead of Sunak by 17 points (12 July) and that the gap then closed to seven points (17 July).
YouGov had Truss ahead of Sunak by 24 points (13 July) with the gap then closing to 18 points (20 July) – on an unforced choice in both cases,” ConservativeHome survey was cited by ANI. Describing Sunak’s decimation in the UK prime ministerial contest, The Guardian editorial said, “Despite long having been talked of as a likely future prime minister, Sunak struggled to shed the parallel with the man who helped bring down Thatcher but failed in his own tilt at the top job – before coining the famous political cliche: “He who wields the knife never wears the crown. ”While Sunak came off as a betrayer, Truss portrayed herself as a “loyal person”.
“I’m loyal to Boris Johnson. I supported our prime minister’s aspirations and I want to deliver the promise of the 2019 manifesto,” Truss had said while canvassing. Sunak’s many controversiesSunak has often found himself in controversy before contesting for the top job.
Members of his own party condemned Sunak for failing to shield vulnerable families against a cost of living crisis during his tenure as the finance minister. As per YouGov poll, Sunak’s popularity saw a dip among Tories. Around eight per cent cited tax policies and performance in the Treasury as a reason, seven per cent said a lack of trust and five per cent saw him as out of touch, Mint reported.
His video boasting about shifting funds from “deprived urban areas” to put money in the Kent commuter belt projects also created a furore. As per British media, Sunak’s wife Akshata Murthy’s wealth was also seen as an impediment to his ambition as the UK’s prime minister. Akshata, daughter of Infosys Ltd.
co-founder Narayana Murthy, is reportedly wealthier than British Queen Elizabeth II with £430 million worth of assets, as per the Sunday Times Rich List. Being dubbed as UK’s richest MP owing to his wife’s fortune, Sunak was asked by the Labour Party to show transparency concerning loans he took for his businesses. In April, it was claimed that Akshata holds non-domiciled status in the UK, and hence does not pay British taxes on her foreign earnings, as per Bloomberg.
Akshata, who owns 0. 93 per cent stake worth £690m in Infosys, was able to save £20 million in taxes on dividends from her shares due to her non-domiciled status, Mint reported. The reports of the couple retaining their US Green Cards after returning to Britain also caused embarrassment with Tories raising doubts on his long-tern plan, as per Mint.
Sunak also put his foot in his mouth when he said scientists were given too much power during the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, irking the community. “Sunak is courting votes, twisting what actually happened to fit a narrative certain voters want to hear. Worse, the misinformation he’s spouting is dangerous.
It encourages the public to think the worst of scientists, only exacerbating mistrust and division. The fact is, scientists weren’t empowered enough – and were used at times as human shields for political incompetence and procrastination. Shame on Sunak for debasing himself,” Rachel Clarke, a palliative care doctor, said, as per Quint.
No high expectations from TrussTruss, who is the new UK prime minister, is coming in with low expectations. As per YouGov, around 52 per cent of Britons expect Truss to be “poor or terrible”, while a mere 12 per cent of Britons expect Truss to be a “good or great” leader. The road ahead for Truss is beset with challenges as Britain deals with soaring inflation and high energy prices in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
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