Rishi Sunak will claim recognition for leading the UK economy through the COVID-19 crash but must overcome accusations that he is too rich and too willing to raise taxes to win the race for the position. next prime minister.
After finishing first in consecutive rounds of voting by Conservative Party lawmakers, Sunak will face Liz Truss, the British Foreign Secretary, on the votes of grassroots party members, with an announcement of who won on September 5.
Most Conservatives are enthusiastic about his long-standing pro-Brexit stance but some also suspect he deliberately created the chain of events that led to Boris Johnson’s resignation as prime minister by resigning from his ministry. Chief Financial Officer at the beginning of July.
Others in the party are unhappy with his record of lifting Britain’s tax burden to its highest level in decades, just as Britain – like other economies – is facing a squeeze. cost of living severely tightened with inflation starting to accelerate.
On top of that, some Conservative lawmakers fear that his wealthy background could become an easy target for the centre-left Labor Party in an election expected in 2024.
Two party lawmakers said there was a concerted push for “anyone but Rishi” amid fears that a politician is willing to be photographed holding a 180 pound coffee ($216). ) will struggle to attract more voters.
Patrick English, a deputy director of polling firm YouGov, says Sunak’s aloof image has contributed to his low popularity among voters – current polls thinks he’s going to lose – but his experience in running the economy can help him turn things around quickly.
“Nobody is going to make a plan public. No one is saying how they’re going to fix things,” English said. “So if he can do that, his image problem won’t be a problem at all.”
The son of an Indian doctor and pharmacist who was born in East Africa and immigrated to Britain in the 1960s, Sunak swapped a lucrative career in finance – including magic spells at Goldman Sachs and hedge fund TCI – to Congress in 2015.
In 2020, then 39, Sunak looks like Johnson’s most likely successor as he races to protect the economy from the effects of the coronavirus shutdown just weeks after he became a prime minister of victory.
He eliminated the Conservative Party’s instinct for massive borrowing and averted an economic downturn.
In a photo showing the urgent sense of unity behind his rescue plans, Sunak posed outside his Downing Street office with the heads of Britain’s largest union group and a group of users. top employers.
PANDEMIC AUDIT HAS FADED
That unity quickly dissipated as the world’s fifth-largest economy emerged from the crisis burdened with an additional £400 billion ($480 billion) in debt and then plunged into a cost-of-living crisis that fueled demand. greater than for the public purse.
Sunak insists its priority is fixing public finances and offered almost no further assistance to the hardest-hit households in a budget update in March this year, bowing only to the pressure. increasing force and rushed to introduce additional measures in May.
At the time, Sunak’s popularity had hit rock bottom after he was fined for violating COVID lockdown rules and confirmed that he had a US Green Card while serving in the UK government, raising questions about whether he sees his long-term future in England.
Sunak’s personalized branding on his social media posts during the pandemic, showing the support the government is providing to millions, has also been a highlight for many lawmakers .
Most disastrously, his wife – the daughter of a wealthy Indian businessman – was revealed to have non-resident tax status in the UK, at a time when Sunak was raising taxes.
But he argues that only he has the experience to get Britain through the looming recession, or possibly recession.
Sunak has dismissed promises of immediate tax cuts by rivals in the Conservative leadership race but says they will be achievable once Britain gets inflation under control, which will soon hit two. numbers.
Craig Watkins, chief executive of Kantar Public UK, said his company’s poll showed that Conservative voters were not asking for an income tax cut but wanted more targeted measures. such as value-added tax cuts on energy bills and fuel taxes.
“It’s a tax break from things that have gone up a lot,” says Watkins. “Reducing income taxes is not a priority compared to those two.”