Rishi Sunak Says He Will Not 'Demonise' Boris Johnson

Frontrunner - who resigned and helped trigger a leadership contest - says the outgoing prime minister has a "good heart".
Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has said it would be wrong to “demonise” Boris Johnson, despite his resignation having helped trigger the prime minister’s downfall.

Speaking at the launch of his Conservative Party leadership campaign on Tuesday, the former chancellor said Johnson “good heart”.

“Boris Johnson is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met,” he said. “Is he flawed? Yes. So are the rest of us.

“I will have no part in a rewriting of history that seeks to demonise Boris, exaggerate his faults or deny his efforts.”

Johnson has not endorsed a successor, but his arch loyalists Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg came out in support of foreign secretary Liz Truss in a bid to block Sunak.

Sunak is currently seen as the frontrunner in the race for No.10, with nine other candidates bidding to be the one to face him in the final round of two.

Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has backed Sunak, and transport secretary Grant Shapps has dropped out of the race to lend him his support.

In his speech, Sunak dismissed proposals from rival candidates to cut taxes immediately as “not credible”.

The former chancellor has said he would only introduce tax cuts once inflation has been brought back under control.

“We need a return to traditional Conservative economic values – and that means honesty and responsibility, not fairytales,” he said.

But Nadhim Zahawi, who succeeded Sunak as chancellor and is also in the race, used his campaign launch video to say: “I believe cutting taxes isn’t a fairytale but rather a critical step to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.”

Candidates require the support of 20 MPs in order to make the leadership contest, with nominations closing later on Tuesday.

So far, the only ones to hit that number are Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat.

Several other candidates – including Truss, Nadhim Zahawi, Jeremy Hunt and Kemi Badenoch – were close enough before nominations formally opened to suggest they will be in the race.


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