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Why did Rishi Sunak lose UK PM race?

Rishi Sunak loses UK PM race: Truss polled 81,326 votes, compared to Sunak's 60,399 in an election with a high turnout of 82.6 per cent, with 654 rejected ballots from a total of 172,437 eligible Tory voters.

Edited By: Shashwat Bhandari New Delhi Published on: September 05, 2022 21:04 IST
From left, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, and her husband Hugh
Image Source : AP From left, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, and her husband Hugh OLeary at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.

UK foreign secretary Liz Truss defeated Indian-origin former chancellor Rishi Sunak to be named the winner of the Conservative Party leadership contest on Monday and will now go on to formally take charge as British Prime Minister as Boris Johnson’s successor. The 47-year-old senior Cabinet minister was widely expected to become the third female British Prime Minister after 170,000 online and postal votes cast by Tory members, ending Sunak’s historic run as the first member of Parliament of Indian heritage to compete for the top job at 10 Downing Street. Truss polled 81,326 votes, compared to Sunak's 60,399 in an election with a high turnout of 82.6 per cent, with 654 rejected ballots from a total of 172,437 eligible Tory voters. "We will deliver, we will deliver and we will deliver," declared Truss in her acceptance speech. Truss - the third female Prime Minister in Britain after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May - said the campaign was "hard-fought" and showed "the depth and breadth of talent" in the party.

Why did Rishi Sunak lose UK PM race?

The members prefer Liz Truss than Rishi Sunak by large margins on the key policy issues such as the cost of living, the NHS, asylum seekers, housing and defence.

Trust issues

In addition, members thought Truss was more likely to deliver a Conservative victory in the next election – although many were pessimistic about whether this can be achieved.

One reason was the “stab-in-the-back” narrative – the idea that Sunak was disloyal to his boss by resigning as chancellor. This set off an avalanche of departures from the government that brought prime minister Boris Johnson down. Altogether 51% of respondents to the survey thought it was wrong for him to resign and only 40% thought this was the right thing to do.

In addition, only 27% of members thought he was “trustworthy”, compared with 60% who thought the same thing about Truss. It looks like his early resignation damaged him a lot in the leadership race.

Tax cuts

Another reason which helped Truss to gain more during the campaign was Sunak not giving more attention to tax cuts. 

Though Truss' immediate tax cut did not get approval from the economists, it did help her in gaining more conservative votes.

Green-card controversy

This was another issue that pulled Rishi Sunak back was that Sunak's keeping their US green card. The conservative party members questioned Sunak's commitment to the UK. However, after public and media pressure, Sunak confirmed that he had gave his green card after he became UK's Finance Minister.

Sunak's rich lifestyle

Rishi Sunak was infamous for living a lavish lifestyle and had often become the topic of news for sporting expensive brands.

Tax evasion by Sunak's wife

An embattled British Conservative party Chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, had earlier defended his Indian wife Akshata Murthy, daughter of Narayana Murthy, one of the founders of software giant Infosys, against charges of avoiding paying taxes in Britain.

Sunak, who is of East African-Indian origin, told media that reports about her non-domicile status are 'unpleasant smears'.

A non-dom in the United Kingdom does not have to pay tax on her overseas income. The BBC estimated "she would have avoided 2.1 million pounds a year in UK tax".

This, while not unlawful, is embarrassing for Sunak, under whom comes Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

"To smear my wife to get at me is awful," Sunak insisted.

Murthy is said to own a 0.9 per cent stake in Infosys, which has been calculated as being worth 500 million pounds. Annual dividends from this holding is estimated to be 11.6 million pounds.

Earlier, the attack against Sunak ranged from he being the richest member of Parliament with a net worth of 200 million pounds, to Infosys operating in Russia, which western corporate houses are restrained from doing after the West's sanctions against the Russian Federation following its invasion of Ukraine.

(With inputs from PTI, IANS)

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