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Johnson’s successor: two Thatcher fans with heavy legacies

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Status: 07/21/2022 10:28

Finance Minister Sunak and Foreign Secretary Truss are vying for the leadership of Britain’s Tories. Both are considered cool diehards on the Johnson line. Your toughest opponent is in opposition.

By Gabi Biesinger, ARD Studio London

Rishi Sunak can shine in front of television cameras and knows how to market himself: he is running for prime minister because Britain’s potential is limitless and he is the best choice to lead the country into the future, said he explained at the opening of a televised debate between the candidates.

Sunak’s curriculum vitae in brief: 42 years old, born in Southampton to parents of Indian origin – his father a doctor, his mother a pharmacist. Training at the elite universities of Oxford and Stanford, then analyst for the investment bank Goldman Sachs, in the House of Commons since 2015, most recently finance minister in the government of Boris Johnson. Married to Akshata Murthy, the daughter of an Indian steel magnate, she is one of the richest women in the world. Two girls.

The fact that Sunak’s wife was not officially registered in Britain and thus saved millions in tax came to light in the spring. A legal procedure, but still awaiting explanations. Then Sunak was also fined as part of the Downing Street Partygate investigation for breaking Corona rules.

Rishi Sunak does not believe in tax cuts.

Image: Reuters

Clever, cold, Thatcher fan

Sunak is considered smart and cold. With regard to tax matters, he follows the conservative policy of Margaret Thatcher and does not consider taxes as a regulator of short-term income redistribution. He has already clashed with Prime Minister Boris Johnson over tax issues, and he warns against too rapid tax cuts, with which his opponent Liz Truss wants to score points.

He explained in the televised debate that he would also like to promise tax cuts, but such a policy would cost too much: “It promotes inflation, makes credit more expensive, reduces savings. Such a policy without cons – funding is not conservative – this is socialism!”

“Liz-Bot” on the Johnson line

But Liz Truss is also a fan of Margaret Thatcher. With her clothes and her photo poses, she tries again and again to imitate the Iron Lady. Tax matters aside, on the face of it she is making very similar promises to Rishi Sunak: she wants to unleash the country’s potential, has shown she can keep her promises as foreign minister and is now ready to take the lead as prime minister.

Just a loop or something more? Liz Truss’ choice of clothes during a televised debate over Johnson’s successor caused a stir – and a lot of ridicule.

Image: AP

Newspaper editorials have teased Truss as “Liz-Bot” after the party’s televised presidential duels, but she comes across as subdued compared to the lithe and eloquent Sunak. Truss’ CV in a nutshell: 46, born in Oxford to a nurse and a math teacher. Raised in Scotland, studied at Oxford, then worked as an economist. In the House of Commons since 2010, currently Secretary of State in the Johnson government. Married to an accountant, two daughters.

Truss campaigned to stay in the EU before the Brexit referendum, but now she has become a hardliner who, as Foreign Secretary, pushed the initiative to suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol, that is why there is a dispute with the EU. Sunak and Truss want to stick to Johnson’s policy line on key points.

Labor leads in polls

But for both of them, their time as cabinet members of the Johnson government will likely be a difficult legacy. The outgoing Prime Minister once again defended his political heritage during the final hour of questions in parliament on Wednesday. “We have rebuilt our democracy and restored our independence,” he said, referring to the exit from the EU, in which he played a key role and which he implemented.

Labor leader Keir Starmer, on the other hand, gave him scathing testimony. “Inflation has risen again this morning and millions are grappling with the cost of living crisis – and he has decided to come out of his gold-walled bunker one last time and tell us that everything okay,” Starmer said — referring to a scandal involving expensive wallpaper at Johnson’s official residence.

Labor is leading in the polls and the Conservatives have recently lost by-elections even in strongholds. At his peak, Johnson had the ability to appeal to both the working class and the upper middle class. It doesn’t look like either of the two potential successors can hold a candle to him yet.

Johnson meeting?

But famed political pick-me-up Johnson has even hinted that there might be a comeback for him one day. Leaving Parliament on Wednesday, he ended with a quote from the Terminator film series: “Hasta la vista, baby!” Regardless of who emerges victorious in the duel to succeed Johnson, it will be difficult to follow in his footsteps.

Conservative MPs will now decide who will next be elected leader of the party and thus also the new prime minister on September 5. They can get a feel for the candidate at campaign appearances called “Hustings” across the country in the coming weeks.

Until now, Sunak has always been able to get the most votes in the caucus, but that could change now: the party base operates differently from the caucus. Polls show that Truss is more popular with Conservative party members – on the other hand, there are polls that Sunak is more popular with Conservative voters.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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