Rishi Sunak due a Shakespearean fall in career – harsh lessons to be learned

Rishi Sunak labelled ‘corrosive figure’ by Beth Rigby

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The Conservative Party leadership race is now in full swing, with some of the nation’s biggest and most influential figures clamouring to secure the 20 nominations needed to get on the ballot paper to replace Boris Johnson. So far, 10 candidates remain in the running to become the next leader of the UK, after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps pulled out of the race on Tuesday morning. He, and fellow Cabinet minister Dominic Raab, have thrown their weight behind Rishi Sunak’s bid, who has already secured the 20 signatures needed to progress to the next stage.

So far Mr Sunak, whose resignation as Chancellor last week sparked the end of Mr Johnson’s premiership, rival Penny Mordaunt, Nadhim Zahawi and Tom Tugendhat are the only candidates to have received the required backing.

When the deadline has passed, votes will be cast to whittle down the candidates to a final two, with the Conservative Party membership voting on who the next leader will be.

A new leader should be installed as Prime Minister by September 5, according to the 1922 Committee of backbenchers that sets the parameters of the race.

Mr Sunak is many Conservative voters’ preferred choice to become the next Prime Minister, with the former minister enjoying a meteoric rise through the ranks of the party.

But the Southampton-born politician was warned that “a few harsh lessons” will likely face him, as he bids to become the country’s next leader.

In a profile piece released in 2020 by Tatler, reviewing Mr Sunak’s career after he was installed as Chancellor, the former waiter’s life was picked apart in detail.

Professionally, Mr Sunak earned a wage while working in the Southampton curry house Kuti’s Brasserie, where he was known as being a “brilliant talker”.

The restaurant’s owner, Kuti Miah, himself a legend in Southampton, recalled how he told the wannabe politician in his younger years that he was “going to be someone”.

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At the time he was around the age of 18, and preparing himself to go to Oxford University, waiting on tables for Mr Miah, who was a close friend of the Sunak family.

He said in 2020: “I saw him grow up. His father used to bring him in his carrycot.”

Mr Sunak took to Oxford, before enjoying a high-flying career in the city, honing the skills that would help him in his role as Chancellor.

After opting for politics, Mr Sunak was elected in 2015 as MP for Richmond (Yorks), the constituency another wannabe Prime Minister occupied, William Hague.

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His time in Parliament saw the 42-year-old earn a reputation as being “hard-working, detail-oriented and affable”, Tatler’s Ben Judah wrote.

One MP said: “He’s got an extremely devoted wife.

“She’s got no problem with him staying out until midnight doing what has to be done.

“If I did that my wife would have my head for dinner.”

Though he has now made it to the forefront of politics, Mr Sunak has in recent times endured a number of issues, including being fined over Partygate.

But another Conservative insider said two years ago, were he to take a tilt at the top job, he could have the same significance as Tony Blair did in rejuvenating a tired Labour Party.

They said: “He reminds me of the fresh-faced Blair I met in the Eighties.

“You know when you are around someone who sees the main chance very quickly while others stumble around. I saw it in Blair and I can see it in him.”

The source added: “We are very early in his political education.

“There are quite a few harsh lessons about politics that Rishi has yet to encounter.”

Mr Judah concluded: “Maybe. But is the golden boy of British politics due a Shakespearean fall?”

‘We are very early in his political education,’ said one Tory source. ‘There are quite a few harsh lessons about politics that Rishi has yet to encounter.’

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