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Sunak’s Backhanded Compliment for Boris

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. File pic/Reuters

From the swirling partygate controversy to the tussle among Conservative leaders to possibly replace Boris Johnson, a roundup of what’s making news at this time.

  • London
  • Last Updated:January 13, 2022, 19:39 IST

Playing safe: It is perhaps right that Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak should only have offered some defence of sorts for Boris Johnson’s apology of sorts over the party he attended at 10 Downing Street on May 20, 2020, when he was telling the nation they must not meet more than one person outdoors. Boris Johnson said he apologises but will wait to hear from an inquiry report if he did something really wrong. To which Rishi Sunak said the PM was “right to apologise”. He sounded critical of the PM for going wrong but praised him for apologising. Tactfully put.

Scramble for PM post: It is not absolutely inevitable, yet, that Boris Johnson will go. But speculation about an exit is now proceeding at a fevered pace, and with that lobbying over a replacement. The two most widely spoken of contestants are Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. But if that race were to begin, it wouldn’t be just a two-horse race. Others are preparing themselves, and their supporters.

Being the good neighbour: There may be questions for Rishi Sunak to offer as a neighbour and not just as minister. The Chancellor lives next door at 11 Downing Street. Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner asked him to reply in parliament whether he did or did not see the large party in the garden next door. Sunak has not commented on this demand. A bit difficult for a trusted minister to speak up as a prying neighbour.

Sorry state: Sue Gray inquiring into the Downing Street party will no doubt have to go into the question of why Boris Johnson has apologised a year and a half after attending a party. Surely he knew all along since he was there. The apology came only after he was confronted with reports of his attendance at that party. Labour MP Jess Philips said: “He’s not sorry, he’s sorry he got caught.”

Priti’s predicament: Home Secretary Priti Patel is a particularly worried minister through all the political churning in Westminster. She is widely unpopular, and particularly unpopular within the Conservative party. She has held her position almost entirely due to personal backing from the Prime Minister. Not many see her continuing to ride a political high were Boris Johnson to go.

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