“I am running a positive campaign focused on what my leadership can offer our party and our country. I will not engage in the negativity that some of you may have seen and read in the media. If others wish to do that, then let them. That’s not who we are, we can be better,” said UK prime ministerial race frontrunner , as he formally launched his campaign in London this week.
Striking that positive note, the 42-year-old UK-born politician, who is married to Indian software giant Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy’s daughter , also pledged not to go down the road of demonising his former boss just because of past disagreements that had led him to resign as Chancellor.
“Boris Johnson is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met. And, whatever some commentators may say, he has a good heart,” said Sunak in his campaign launch speech.
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“Did I disagree with him? Frequently. Is he flawed? Yes – and so are the rest of us. Was it no longer working? Yes, and that’s why I resigned. But let me be clear, I will have no part in a rewriting of history that seeks to demonise Boris, exaggerate his faults or deny his efforts,” he said.
On the issue that is seen as central to the leadership race, Sunak reiterated that as a former finance minister he is determined to steer the economy in the right direction but would not be making fairy tale promises on lowering right away.
“We need a return to traditional Conservative economic values and that means honesty and responsibility, not fairy tales. It is not credible to promise lots more spending and lower taxes,” he said, as a clear counter-attack to some of his rivals who have promised tax cuts.
“So, that is my plan: tackle inflation, grow the economy and cut taxes. It is a long-term approach that will deliver long-term gains for families and businesses across the United Kingdom. I am prepared to give everything I have in service to our nation, to restore trust, rebuild our economy, and reunite the country,” he said.
He laid out his long-term strategy as the future , underpinned by values of “hard work, patriotism, fairness, a love of family and pragmatism”.
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“Values that compel me to say it is completely unacceptable in this country that too many women and girls do not enjoy the same freedom most men take for granted in feeling safe from assault and abuse. That our natural environment is an inheritance we preserve and protect for future generations,” he said.
Sunak’s speech came as he received the endorsement of a senior Tory figure, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, and also Transport Secretary Grant Shapps – who withdrew his own leadership bid to throw his weight behind the former .
With the backing of more than the requisite 20 Tory MPs, Sunak – the member of Parliament for Richmond in Yorkshire since 2015 – continues to be the frontrunner in the race and is confirmed for the first round of knockout votes.