LONDON: Conservative Party leadership contender Indian-origin Rishi Sunak has said that he knows he is behind UK foreign secretary Liz Truss in the British PM race but he does not think racism is to blame for that. Sunak said this in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
Sunak was born in the UK to a Kenya-born Hindu Punjabi father, who has ancestral roots in Gujranwala, now in Pakistan, and a Tanzania-born Hindu Punjabi mother with family roots in India.
Gujranwala-born Conservative donor Lord Ranger recently said that Britain will be seen as racist if Sunak loses the leadership election while The Times quoted Sunak loyalists at the weekend saying Sunak was a victim of a “bit of latent racism” from members.
“I absolutely don’t think that’s a factor in anyone’s decision,” Sunak told the Telegraph. “I just don’t think that’s right. I was selected as a member of Parliament in Richmond… Our members rightly put merit above everything else. I’m sure when they are considering this question, they are just figuring out who is the best person to be Prime Minister… Gender, ethnicity and everything else will have nothing to do with it.”
During his opening speech at the first hustings in Leeds, Sunak had said the Sun had been shining so much on the campaign trail that someone had complimented him saying, “Wow you have got a great tan”, which sparked laughs from the audience.
Sunak told the Telegraph he felt the issue of him raising taxes was dominating the contest too much and he was not getting the chance to talk about his vision for Britain, which included encouraging business to invest in new machinery, equipment and research and development, reforming capital markets after Brexit to get money flowing to fast-growth companies, reforming the NHS and making sure that every British child receives a world-class education.
Yet Truss has been in the lead ever since the battle for UK PM switched from the House of Commons to the wider party membership.
Betting exchange firm Smarkets gives Truss a 90% chance of succeeding Boris Johnson as Prime Minister while Sunak’s chances of winning the Tory leadership race have crashed to just 10%.
Sunak and Truss are currently taking part in a six-week hustings tour to persuade some 200,000 Conservative party members, of whom only a tiny percentage are Indian-origin, to vote for them.