Truss, aged 47, will become the third female PM in British political history after travelling to meet the Queen at Balmoral in Scotland on Tuesday. A graduate in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford, where she was born, she received 81,326 votes in the members’ ballot, almost 21,000 more than Sunak who garnered 60,399 votes.
Liz Truss promises to deliver another victory for the Conservative party in 2024
The polls and betting companies had predicted Truss to win but the margin she got — a 57.4% share of the members’ vote against Sunak’s 42.6% — was smaller than expected.
In comparison Boris Johnson got a 66.4% share of the members’ vote in 2019, David Cameron got 67.6% in 2005 and Iain Duncan Smith 60.7% in 2001.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first of the world leaders to congratulate Truss, saying, “Confident that under your leadership, the India-UK comprehensive strategic partnership will be further strengthened. Wish you the very best for your new role and responsibilities.”
Outgoing UK PM Boris Johnson also congratulated Truss on her “decisive win”, saying, “Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100%.”
Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer said Sunak and Truss were out of touch and called for a general election, saying: “The change we need is not a change at the top of the Tory party.”
The results were declared on Monday inside a packed Queen Elizabeth II Centre where Truss and Sunak both sat in the front row.
Sunak looked nervous as the results were read out. But after Truss won, he stood up and clapped for her. He later tweeted: “I’ve said throughout that the Conservatives are one family. It’s right we now unite behind the new PM, Liz Truss, as she steers the country through difficult times.”
Truss looked overjoyed with the results. One of the first things she did on stage was to pay tribute to Sunak, saying: ”It’s been a hard fought campaign. I think we have shown the depth and breadth of talent in our Conservative party.”
Sunak clapped but looked devastated and tears seemed to well up in his eyes.
Anger exploded in some Indian diaspora WhatsApp groups, with members saying the results demonstrated racism in the UK, but Indian-origin Conservative councillor Aarien Areti said such views were not held among PIO Tory party members. “It’s quite impressive that Rishi got more than 40% of the vote. It is a clear victory for the party that someone of ethnic heritage rose to such a position. It has nothing to do with racism. After speaking to a lot of members, especially Boris fans, they thought Rishi had back-stabbed Boris, so they voted for Liz. My view is that the timing didn’t help Rishi’s situation. Had he not resigned or resigned earlier, the result would have been different.”
Areti added that whilst a majority of the Indian-origin party members rooted for Sunak, a small number had voted for Truss as she had promised to review IR35 tax rules, which impact Indian contractors.
Tory councillor Raj Singh said: “Rishi Sunak fought a good battle and got the ethnic minorities closer to breaking the glass ceiling than ever before. It is a historic milestone in British politics and proves the Conservative party is a party of equal opportunity and for all.”
He added: “Liz Truss is also good news for the India-UK relationship, and she is pro-business and committed to deepening ties with India.”
“Rishi Sunak will be disappointed to lose this election, in perhaps the first setback of his professional life and career,” said Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, a UK-based non-partisan think tank.
“His creditable 43% vote share — closer than the polls or pundits predicted — suggest that timing was everything. If Boris Johnson had resigned in January, it seems to me very likely that Sunak would now be heading to 10 Downing Street as our first British-Indian prime minister. The damage done to his standing by the shifting economy, rising taxes and questions about his wife’s tax status have made him runner-up. Many British Indians feel he was the more capable of the two candidates and so there is some disappointment at a result.”
Conservative peer Lord Ranger said: “The Liz campaign caught the imagination of the public and was very effective and positive, and Rishi did us proud and demonstrated that in the Tory party it is calibre, and not colour, that matters – this shows that what we faced in the’70s, ’80s and ’90s is no longer the case in the UK. We are now going to unite behind our leader as we face huge crises — inflation, Ukraine war, soaring energy prices.”
He said Sunak had “inspired millions of people of Indian origin throughout the world and many other non-white people”, and that he would be “a catalyst for change like Barack Obama was. I hope Truss offers him a key role in her Cabinet”.
Watch Liz Truss to be next UK PM, beats Rishi Sunak by 20,000 votes
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