Today, British Conservative lawmakers selected the final two candidates in the race to become the UK’s next prime minister: former finance minister Rishi Sunak and current foreign minister Liz Truss.
Following Boris Johnson’s resignation earlier this month, the past three weeks have seen a wide range of candidates within the party battle to become leader, with eight candidates announced on July 12. Since then, multiple rounds of voting, heated TV debates and extensive behind-the-scenes lobbying have seen the field narrowed to just two candidates, after the last remaining favorite, Penny Mordaunt, was eliminated earlier in the day.
Over the next six weeks, a final vote will be cast from a wider ballot of 180,000 grassroots Conservative members, with the results announced on September 5. Until then, here’s everything you need to know about the two contenders and who looks most likely to enter Downing Street in the fall.
Initially seen as a natural successor to Johnson, Sunak’s path to leadership seemed a little more difficult after he resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer in early July – one of the highest posts in the UK government, he involves overseeing all economic and financial affairs – before many of his other colleagues take the plunge. (Sunak’s exit, alongside former health secretary Sajid Javid, was widely seen as a major turning point in Johnson’s demise.)
If Sunak wins the vote, he would become both the country’s first South Asian leader and the youngest in more than 200 years, at the age of 42. However, much has been said about his privileged background, Sunak having studied at the elite. boarding school for boys Winchester College and later the University of Oxford, before completing an MBA at Stanford University. Sunak went on to have a lucrative early career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, among other firms, while his wife, heiress Akshata Murty, is one of Britain’s wealthiest women.
Elected MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, in 2015, Sunak initially held several junior cabinet posts. When Johnson was elected prime minister in 2019, as a staunch supporter of the leader, Sunak was appointed chief secretary to the treasury and then chancellor in February 2020. Despite his firm belief in low taxes, the challenges of the pandemic have seen her popularity. increase after launching a number of leave programs and packages for businesses and workers to keep the economy afloat. And while Sunak was embroiled in the partygate scandal that helped bring Johnson down, his relatively minor involvement helped him emerge unscathed in the public eye; more perilous to his public image was the scandal that erupted earlier this year when it was revealed that Murty was not paying UK tax on his overseas earnings.