Rishi Sunak kicked off his Conservative leadership campaign on Friday night by pledging to be “serious”, downplaying the prospect of impending tax cuts if he becomes prime minister.
The former chancellor, who resigned earlier this week, is widely seen as the favorite to replace Boris Johnson among Tory MPs, advisers and even other leadership candidates, with a senior Tory source saying: ” Anyone could live with Rishi.”
Mr Sunak is believed to believe that taxes can only be cut when public finances improve. The allies have pointed out that his economic approach is Thatcherite rather than Reaganian.
The Telegraph can reveal he quit government following a major showdown last weekend with Mr Johnson over how and when to cut taxes.
According to Mr Johnson’s allies, Mr Sunak has adamantly refused to cut corporation tax despite the Prime Minister’s demands. On Tuesday night he quit, fueling the collapse in support that led to Mr Johnson’s resignation.
Attacks on Mr Sunak by rivals mounted on Friday night, with critics describing him as a ‘socialist chancellor’ who raised taxes to their highest level in 70 years.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit minister, told the BBC’s Any Questions program on Friday night: ‘I will not support Mr Sunak as Prime Minister. I belong to a party that believes in low taxation and the former Chancellor talked about low taxation and imposed higher taxation.”
However, Mr Sunak already has the public support of more than a dozen Tory MPs – more than any other leadership rival who has gone public. This includes six former cabinet ministers.
Mark Spencer, the leader of the Commons, Oliver Dowden, the former Tory speaker, Robert Jenrick, the former Communities Secretary, and Liam Fox, the former Defense Secretary, were among the prominent Tories to pledge their support.
On Friday night, a poll of nearly 500 Conservative Channel 4 members put Mr Sunak in first place, with 25% of those polled favoring him as the next leader, followed by Liz Truss at 21% and Ben Wallace at 12%. hundred.