The election for the leadership of the Conservative Party, and thus the UK’s new prime minister, enters the crucial stage in August, when the party’s 160,000 members vote by mail for one of the two candidates who have passed the primary. Stages of the process (in which only Conservative MPs voted): Former Economy Minister Rishi Sunak, 42, and Secretary of State Liz Truss, 47.
Both will be tasked with stabilizing the Conservative Party and the country after the turbulent period of Boris Johnson, who announced his departure from office on July 7.
Due to differing opinions on the behavior of the British economy, Sunak left the executive branch two days ago. His departure was one of the first steps in the stampede of dozens of Johnson administration employees, besieged by scandals and who saw no alternative but to resign.
Truss, in turn, remained in the government, although he has since said the current prime minister would not be part of his administration if he wins.
Young Tory candidates (at least compared to their predecessors Theresa May, who was 59 when she became prime minister, and Boris Johnson, who was 55), Sunak and Truss have other similarities, such as their defense of Brexit. From the European Union and scandals. They almost put their lives in danger, but now they will have the task of showing their differences to the party’s primary voters to get votes.
Sunak is the son of African immigrants of Indian origin and, if elected, would be the first Hindu to hold the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University and later worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and a partner in two hedge funds. He is married to Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Narayana Murthy, the Indian billionaire who co-founded the IT services company Infosys. The couple has two daughters.
Akshata’s financial situation and the revelation in the press that Sunak himself would be a beneficiary of funds in tax havens (which he denies) caused embarrassment in the first half of this year, when he was already Minister of Economy. Previously, he was elected MP in 2015 and held other positions in the governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
Economy minister since 2020, Sunak has coordinated the economic response to the pandemic and a £350bn government support package that has earned him high approval ratings, although inflation since late last year has taken some of those political profits – as well as a fine for involvement in Partygate, the scandal that collects In which members of the British Executive are partying during lockdown while preventing residents from doing the same.
Truss was also a former student at Oxford, a leftist activist and even advocated the end of the monarchy, but later emigrated to Conservatism. She worked as an accountant at Shell and Cable & Wireless for telecommunications.
Married and mother of two, Truss was first elected to the British Parliament in 2010, but almost lost support in her constituency two years later due to revelations of an extramarital affair with Conservative MP Mark Field.
Truss remained in the position and in the same year joined the executive branch, holding positions in education, environment, agriculture, justice, economics, women’s policy and foreign affairs – and has held the position of minister for this portfolio since September of last year.
Unlike Sunak, who has been a supporter of Brexit from the start, Truss advocated for the UK to remain in the EU, but after the referendum in which the British population chose to leave the bloc, he changed his mind. She aims to become the country’s third female prime minister – Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May were also conservatives.
On September 5th, the UK and the world will know which one will replace Boris Johnson. Sunak is ahead in the vote among lawmakers, but Truss is the favorite among the conservative base: A YouGov poll last week showed she got 54% of the vote, while her rival got 35%.
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