Will Rishi Sunak be rewarded or punished for launching his slick leadership campaign early?

Credit: The Treasury

Rishi Sunak has launched a slick, well organised leadership campaign very early. It is impossible to escape the conclusion that he has been preparing his leadership pitch quietly for weeks and months.

Will this hurt or harm him?

There may be some Boris Johnson loyalists who will accuse him of disloyalty - although Johnson did not manifest much fealty to Theresa May when she was PM and he foreign secretary.

Per contra, Johnson’s many critics may want to reward Sunak for quitting as chancellor last Tuesday and triggering the crisis that led on Thursday to Johnson announcing he was stepping down. So it is not clear to me whether Sunak will be rewarded or punished for contingency planning for a bid to become PM while in theory there was no vacancy at the top.

What will matter much more is, one whether the still-dominant Brexiters will back him (and the endorsement of eternal Brexiter Liam Fox won’t harm Sunak) and, two, whether the polls show he or someone else is best placed to reverse the surge in support for LibDems in the South and the lesser forward momentum of Labour in the Midlands and North.

If Sunak looks the best candidate to recreate the coalition of voters that took the Tories to their decisive victory in 2019, he’ll be on his way to becoming the first person of colour to be UK prime minister.

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