Rishi Sunak announces leadership bid as he vows to ‘lead with integrity’
Rishi Sunak has formally launched his bid to be Tory leader and Prime Minister, vowing to “lead with integrity” in a clear attack on Boris Johnson.
Sunak, the bookmakers’ favourite to become next UK Prime Minister, said “I want to fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country” in the wake of Liz Truss’ disastrous six-week premiership.
Johnson is yet to formally declare he will run, but business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg today told the BBC “clearly he’s going to stand” amid speculation he could pull out of the race.
Allies of Johnson have said the former Prime Minister has the numbers to get on the ballot, with Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris today saying “we do have the numbers, the Rishi camp knows we have the numbers, the Penny camp knows we have the numbers”.
Sunak is beginning to pick up a lot of momentum and has secured the nomination of some of key figures from the right of the party today, including Suella Braverman and Steve Baker.
Penny Mordaunt announced her leadership bid on Friday, but is lagging behind Sunak and Johnson in the number of public supporters behind each candidatge.
Sunak already has more than 140 public nominations from fellow Tory MPs and is the only candidate to have passed the 100-nomination threshold to run in the race.
Johnson has 60 public backers, while Penny Mordaunt has 24.
In his statement today, Sunak said: “I served as your chancellor, helping to steer our economy through the toughest of times.
“The challenges we face now are even greater. But the opportunities – if we make the right choice are phenomenal.”
Sunak supporter, and former deputy PM to Johnson, Dominic Raab said a deal between the top two candidates is not the “right way to proceed” and that the pair had a “very good conversation about the need for there to be unity”.
Sunak allies have said Johnson cannot possibly become Prime Minister again while he still has a House of Commons inquiry on partygate hanging over his head.
A Commons committee will soon start hearing evidence about whether Johnson misled parliament over Number 10’s many lockdown-busting parties.
Cabinet Office minister Nadhim Zahawi today backed Johnson’s bid to make a stunning return to Number 10 and said the former Prime Minister had changed.
“When I was chancellor, I saw a preview of what Boris 2.0 would look like. He was contrite and honest about his mistakes. He’d learned from those mistakes how he could run No10 and the country better,” he said.
Brexiteer right-winger Steve Baker today backed Sunak and said: “I’m afraid because of the privileges committee vote, Boris Johnson would be a guaranteed disaster.”