Home / News / World /  Explained: Why Rishi Sunak lost the UK Prime Ministerial race against Liz Truss

Touted as the favourite initially for the race to Downing Street, Rishi Sunak started losing his spark midway. Sunak had a huge advantage as he threw his hat early in the ring and was endorsed by four former chief whips, but within weeks, he started trailing behind the late-comer Liz Truss in the UK prime ministerial race.

Several surveys and polls conducted over the past six consistently showed Truss to be a much stronger contender than Sunak and remained the preferred choice among Tory members.

YouGov Conservative membership poll showed, Truss enjoyed a lead of 69% to Sunak’s 31% from 29 July- 2 August. And till 17 August, she stayed ahead of Sunak with 66% votes to his 34%.

“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 showed as cited by ANI.

Why is Sunak lost the PM race against Truss?

Hours after Boris Johnson announced his resignation, Sunak threw his hat into the ring with a campaign video titled ‘Ready for Rishi’. Even though it gave him the initial advantage, the act was a thorough mark of trust deficit in his boss and mentor.

Moreover, even as he gained massive support from his party at first, he started losing them including Sajid Javid, Nadhim Zahawi and then, finally, Mordaunt. Several other MPs too switched sides. Meanwhile, Liz became stronger with her moves as the race progressed.

Apart from that, even though Sunak became popularity shot up immediately after Johnson's resignation, his image to be a backstabber was never forgotten.

His tax policies and performance in the Treasury was given as a reason by 8%, while 7% cited a lack of trust and 5% saw him as out of touch, as per YouGov poll.

"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," The Guardian editorial wrote about him.

Why did Rishi Sunak suddenly become unpopular?

Rishi Sunak's image was permanently tainted when a video of his came into foray where he accepted that he took money from deprived urban areas. His comments, boasting of shifting money from “deprived urban areas" to fund projects in the Kent commuter belt sparked outrage, considering it cut across the UK government’s rhetoric about ‘levelling up’ Britain and spreading wealth beyond the south-east.

Things turned worse when reports claimed that his wife Akshata is wealthier than British Queen Elizabeth II with assets worth £430 million, according to Sunday Times Rich List. In fact, they were mentioned to be Westminster’s first billionaire couple, probably enjoying the largest fortune of any House of Commons family. Their finances came under scrutiny as Labour party called him to be more transparent regarding loans he took to fund his businesses.

The Guardian reported, Rishi was forced to explain details about how he managed his family's fortune, which is said to total £730million. His fortune's are derived from his marriage to Akshata Murthy, who owns a 0.93% stake worth £690m in Infosys.

Further, the Independent newspaper claimed that Akshata, who is still an Indian national, had non-domiciled status in the UK and non liable to pay taxes in UK. In fact, her domicile status of helps her to save her around £20 million in taxes on dividends from her shares in Infosys.

More trouble came when reports suggested that Sunaks had retained their US Green Cards even after returning to Britain

Critics have also used expensive clothes and houses to portray him as out of touch with the ordinary public.

What is next for Rishi Sunak?

Hours after he lost the race, Sunak showed his support to Liz Truss. "It's right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times," Sunak said on Twitter.

The ex-chancellor said he would continue to work as an MP, representing his constituency Richmond, Yorkshire, saying it was "a great privilege" to represent the people there. He said he would love to continue to represent the people of Richmond “as long as they'll have me".

Sunak, however, did not rule out the possibility of running for the post of leader of the Conservative Party in the future. "We've just finished this campaign. I'd say... I need to recover from this one," he said.

However, more than the fact that who won or who lost, the race this time has been inspirational. Seeing someone like them in both origin and colour of skin, inevitably fuels hope within the community that is always striving to fight for its rights and against racism.

 

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