London: Rishi Sunak, who has made history as the first Indian-origin member of Parliament to compete for the post of British Prime Minister, on Saturday signed off his “Ready for Rishi” campaign with a thank you note for his team and supporters.
While most surveys of Conservative Party members with a vote in the leadership election to replace Boris Johnson, and even most UK media reports, have concluded that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will be the winning candidate when the result is declared on Monday, Sunak struck a note of optimism on Twitter.
“Voting is now closed. Thank you to all my colleagues, the campaign team and, of course, all the members who came out to meet me and lend your support. See you Monday! #Ready4Rishi,” he said.
The 42-year-old British Indian former finance minister pegged his campaign around a focus on getting a grip on soaring inflation, a 10-point plan to tackle illegal immigration, fighting crime to make UK streets safer and restoring integrity and trust at the heart of government.
“Six weeks on the road and I’ve loved every second,” he declared.
The online and postal ballots cast by an estimated 160,000 Tory members are now being tallied by the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ), with the winner to be announced on Monday at 1230 pm local time by Sir Graham Brady – chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs and returning officer of the election.
Sunak and Truss will find out who between them has clinched the top job at 10 Downing Street around 10 minutes before the public announcement.
According to the calendar of events now set in motion, the newly elected leader will make a brief acceptance speech soon after the results are declared at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London – near Downing Street.
The rest of Monday will involve the winning candidate putting the final touches to his or her Cabinet posts and prime ministerial debut speech.
On Tuesday, the day will begin with a farewell speech by outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the steps of his Downing Street office one last time before he is flown out to Aberdeenshire in Scotland for an audience with the Queen to formally resign as the head of government.
His successor, who will arrive in Scotland separately, will then be formally appointed Prime Minister by Queen Elizabeth II at her Balmoral Castle residence – marking the first time in history that the appointment is made outside England as the 96-year-old monarch reduces her travels with age.
Later in the afternoon of Tuesday, the newly appointed Prime Minister will arrive back at Downing Street to make his or her inaugural speech before getting on with the task of announcing key Cabinet posts. Essential security briefings are expected to also take place during the course of the day by senior officials.
On Wednesday at 12 noon local time, the newly elected leader of the Conservative government will address their first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons – facing off with Opposition Leader Sir Keir Starmer.
It will mark the culmination of weeks of high political drama at the heart of the British government after nearly 60 senior ministers resigned from Cabinet in early July, forcing Johnson out in the wake of the partygate scandal of COVID law-breaking parties and impropriety allegations involving a senior political aide.
Sunak was among the first few ministers to step down as Chancellor, citing disagreements with his former boss, and later threw his hat in the ring for the leadership contest. He proved hugely popular with his Tory MP colleagues, who voted overwhelmingly for him to take over as Johnson’s successor.
However, the wider Tory membership base is believed to be still fiercely loyal to the outgoing leader and unhappy with Johnson’s forced exit from Downing Street. This loyalty is expected to have a strong bearing on the final outcome of the Tory leadership race, which will be known on Monday.