Boris Johnson’s succession is already a matter of two. Former Treasury Secretary Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are the finalists in the race for the Conservative leadership. The announcement came hours after Johnson himself, in his last parliamentary speech, thus defined his three years in power: “Mission long accomplished.” His farewell, to the Arnold Schwarzenegger, left in the air the possibility of a political revenge: “Hasta la vista, baby”.

The last vote among the ‘tories’ parliamentarians has meant the elimination of the third in discord, the former Secretary of Defense Penny Mordaunt. The final decision is now in the hands of the more than 150,000 ‘Tory’ militants, who will vote throughout the month of August and decide the name of the next tenant of Downing Street on September 5.

The race began with eight candidates who were eliminated in successive batches showing the internal frictions of the ‘Tories’ on issues such as economic policy, tax cuts, the Brexit “dividend” or the goal of “zero emissions” by 2050 The campaign was also a trial of the “honesty” and “integrity” of Boris Johnson, who, in his own way, influenced from the outside.

A resigning minister and a “loyal” minister will ultimately compete for the Conservative crown in a fierce battle that may expose the deep divisions within the Conservative Party. We haven’t seen anything yet…

At 42 years old, Rishi Sunak has the challenge of demonstrating his status as a “golden boy” and a young promise of British conservatism. He could be at the same time the first ‘premier’ of Indian origin and also the richest, after having entered the coveted list of ‘The Sunday Times’ this year with a fortune estimated at 850 million euros (combined with that of his wife, Akshata Murthy).

Sunak has been the undisputed front-runner for Johnson’s succession for months, buoyed by the popularity of his Covid rescue package (popularly known as “Furlough”) that guaranteed millions of jobs. His popularity has, however, plummeted as a result of the scandal involving his wife, the daughter of Indian technology tycoon Narayan Murthy, who took advantage of “non-domiciled” status in the United Kingdom to avoid taxes. .

Since then, his perception as a member of the high economic elite, in contrast to his passivity in the face of the cost of living crisis – which is today the main concern of the British – has wreaked great havoc on his image. He to the point of being among the three worst valued members of the Johnson cabinet at the time of announcing his resignation as secretary of the Treasury.

In conservative media (and especially ‘The Daily Mail’) he is considered the “traitor” who brought about the fall of Johnson, who has done everything possible to boycott his campaign from the outside. Several cabinet members loyal to Johnson – such as Dominic Raab and Steve Barclay – have, however, given her their support, considering that he is the most capable politician to hold the reins of the country in times of crisis.

During the campaign, Rishi Sunak has asserted his economic credentials and criticized his rivals’ proposals as “fairy tales”. Instead of promising an initial tax cut, he has anticipated that his main objective will be to fight inflation, even if he has to take measures that are not necessarily popular. His defense of Brexit “from day one” has been another of his trump cards against his conservative co-religionists.

Marking the distances with his predecessor, Sunak has promised to be “honest” with the British and make “integrity” one of the basic principles of his Government. From the outset, he has denied that Johnson’s former strategist, Dominic Cummings, was linked to his campaign, which he had, in fact, been plotting since the end of 2021.

Sunak was born in 1980 in Southampton, the son of an upper class family of Indian origin (father doctor, mother pharmacist). He received the very private English education and studied Economics at Oxford, to go on a Fulbright scholarship to Stanford, where he met his wife-to-be. He cut his teeth as a banker at Goldman Sachs and other investment funds before making the dizzying leap into politics in 2015. He was in the background with Theresa May and finally came to the fore when Boris Johnson appointed him Treasury Secretary to replace Sajid Javid in 2019.

The main challenge facing his campaign -“Ready for Rishi”- is, precisely, the perception of distance from the problems of the average Briton, hence the effort to make him go out without a tie in the debates and to rescue the image of “friend of the people” that made him rise whole during the pandemic.

Liz Truss reaches the final stretch of the ‘tory’ contest with the band of the candidate “loyal” to Boris Johnson and with the inevitable turn towards the hard wing of the party that she has consolidated as Foreign Secretary, with the Irish Protocol law and his confrontation with Brussels as a business card.

“What do you regret more, Liz, having been a liberal-democrat or having defended remaining in the EU?” Rishi Sunak asked sarcastically in the last debate, with the manifest intention of exposing her for her opposition initial to Brexit and because of its not necessarily conservative origins.

Liz Truss was born in Oxford 46 years ago, into a leftist family that took her to demonstrations against Thatcher (whom she now, curiously, imitates in a long collection of images with which she has been lavished on social networks ). During the campaign she has placed special emphasis on discounting her humble background and her public school education, in contrast to the super-privileged childhood of her rival.

“I became conservative precisely to prevent children from being left behind and not having opportunities,” she replied with that angry woman’s rictus that sometimes characterizes her, also compared, despite herself, with the robotic image projected by Theresa May.

Truss has, however, gone up in numbers during the debates, in which he recalled his status as a champion of the free market and boasted of having sealed dozens of post-Brexit trade agreements, before making the leap to the Foreign Office. She has bragged about being a policy that keeps her word and translates his promises into action, with special mention of the UK’s international leadership standing up to Putin in the Ukraine war.

Also aware of what the greatest concern of the British is, he has promised “a tax cut from day one” and has questioned the economic policy of Sunak, who tried to return the accusation of “socialist” to him, without success. The confrontation between the two has escalated during the campaign, to the point of the suspension of the latest television debates.

Truss is the representative of Johnson’s “continuity”, which has encouraged his campaign from the shadows. Within the cabinet, however, she has had a hard time winning support, and that is also interpreted as a symptom of the suspicion created by her fame of being ambitious and her self-promotion in recent months. The ministers of the hard wing, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries, have been left practically alone in asking for support for their candidacy.

The Foreign Secretary arrived late to the starting grid and went through uncertain times, after Penny Mordaunt’s comeback, but she has been gaining ground among the bases and in the latest YouGov poll she is already the favorite in a one-on-one with Rishi Sunak.

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