Rishi Sunak, who quit as Boris Johnson’s chancellor this week, launched his bid to lead the Conservative party on Friday with a pledge that he will avoid “comforting fairy tales”.
His video to launch his campaign appeared a coded attack on what many MPs have seen as the prime minister’s Panglossian approach to policy.
“Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions”, said Sunak, adding that he wanted to “lead this country in the right direction”.
Sunak played a central role in events that served to force Johnson’s decision to stand down as Conservative leader on Thursday.
He was one of the first ministers to quit Johnson’s government this week over the prime minister’s failure to fully disclose his knowledge of sexual misconduct allegations against the now disgraced former Tory chief whip Chris Pincher.
Sunak, 42, is widely seen by Conservative MPs as one of the favourites to win the Tory leadership contest and succeed Johnson as prime minister. Bookmaker Ladbrokes has him as the current favourite, with odds of 11/4.
I’m standing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister.
Let’s restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country. #Ready4Rishi
— Ready For Rishi (@RishiSunak) July 8, 2022
His leadership pitch highlighted his focus on trying to move the Tories on from the turbulence and scandal that undermined Johnson.
“Let’s restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country,” said Sunak.
He also suggested that his policy platform would include a focus on fiscal discipline.
“Do we confront this moment with the honesty, seriousness and determination?” Sunak asked. “Or do we tell ourselves comforting fairy tales that might make us feel better in the moment but will leave our children worse off tomorrow?”
Sunak, son of first generation migrants to the UK, used his video to speak of the importance of family values and the opportunities he had gained in his life.
He has already won some of the first significant endorsements of the leadership contest: former Tory chief whips Mark Harper and Mark Spencer.