MP Jesse Norman’s chosen candidate for prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has now won the race.
During the race Mr Norman ruled out supporting a return from previous prime minister Boris Johnson. He said: “There are several very good potential candidates for Conservative leader. But choosing Boris now would be—and I say this advisedly—an absolutely catastrophic decision.”
He voiced his support on October 23: “I am supporting Rishi Sunak as leader. Having worked closely with him at HM Treasury, I saw at first hand how effective he was as chancellor of the exchequer. So he will be as prime minister.”
Mr Norman worked as Financial Secretary to the Treasury May 23, 2019 to September 16, 2021. He was one of many Conservative MPs who penned a letter of no confidence to the 1922 committee requesting previous prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation.
Liz Truss resigned as prime minister on Thursday, October 20, after 45 days in office. In a statement outside Number 10 Downing Street, Ms Truss said she could not deliver the mandate on which she was elected by the Conservative Party and has therefore notified King Charles III that she is resigning as leader of the party. She added that a leadership election will subsequently be held, a contest which only lasted one week.
The Gazette reported, in June, on Mr Norman’s letter to the 1922 committee calling for then prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation. Mr Norman quoted part of his letter on the morning following the by-election results, where Conservatives had lost both seats they were defending.
He posted on social media: “For you (Boris Johnson) to prolong this charade not only insults the electorate, and the people who support, volunteer, represent, and campaign for our party; it makes a decisive change of government at the next election much more likely. That is potentially catastrophic for this country.”
Gazette readers were polled on Twitter on their preferred candidate. In a short running poll which asked “Who would you prefer: Rishi Sunak or Penny Mordaunt for prime minister?” Around two-thirds of participants opted for Mr Sunak.
Voter intention polling has fallen to record lows under former prime minister Liz Truss, with many people unhappy about substantial sweeping changes brought without the mandate of a general election. Readers on the Gazette’s Facebook page have suggested that Paddington Bear or The Muppets make better candidates, with some demanding a general election.
Mr Sunak was born in Southampton and educated at Winchester College, read philosophy, politics, and economics at Lincoln College, Oxford, and gained an MBA from Stanford University in California as a Fulbright Scholar. While studying at Stanford, he met his wife Akshata Murty. After graduating, Mr Sunak worked for Goldman Sachs.