UNITED KINGDOM: Former chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Sunday that racism was not a factor in Conservative Party members’ decision to vote for the party’s next leader and Boris Johnson’s successor as British prime minister.
The finalist in the race for 10 Downing Street, combating his challenger, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, in polls during the leadership campaign due to end on September 5 rejected factors such as gender or ethnicity in Tory members’ mails.
Ballots are starting next week. It followed Indian-origin businessman and Conservative Party donor Lord Rami Ranger saying in a video last week that Britain would be seen as racist if Sunak lost the Tory leadership election.
“I absolutely don’t think that’s a factor in anybody’s decision. I just don’t think it’s right,” Sunak told The Daily Telegraph.
“I was elected Member of Parliament for Richmond. Our members rightly put merit above everything else. I’m sure when they consider this question they are just working out who is the best person to be Prime Minister.Gender ethnicity and everything else with he will have nothing to do with that,” said the Tory MP for Richmond, Yorkshire.
The 42-year-old British Indian politician admits he is “catching up” to Liz Truss in the race as he continues his campaign tour of the UK to win votes from Conservative Party members.
“Not too long ago, the comment was that I wouldn’t even enter this contest,” he pointed out, alluding to attacks on his wife Akshata Murty’s tax status on her Infosys shares.
“I think I can build a country where the defining characteristics of our society are hard work, aspiration and hope, a society where a first-class education is the birthright of every child, a society where we lead the world and standards of decency. and integrity and a society where we’re really proud of our history and traditions, but we’re really confident about our future. You don’t hear a lot about it because everyone wants to focus on a very narrow conversation,” he said, making an indication to his disappointment with the tax cuts, which are the race’s dominant issue.
As part of his reform plans for the state-funded National Health Service (NHS), if elected Prime Minister, Sunak said he would impose a temporary £10 fine on patients who do not see a general practitioner (GP) or outpatients after taking appointment without giving sufficient notice to allow the practice or hospital to offer the slot to another patient.
The first time a patient misses an appointment they will be given the ‘benefit of the doubt’ but further missed appointments will be charged at £10 each time.
“We’re already paying for appointments. If they’re not being used, then it’s a waste. So if we can change that, then basically we’re getting more out of the money we’re putting in today. It’s a good example of a conservative approach to this problem,” he told the newspaper.
During interactions with Tory members on the campaign trail, he urged supporters not to give up even if he is the “underdog” in the race.
“I’m fighting for the values I believe in. I’m fighting for the things I think are right for our country. And I’m not going to stop,” he reassured.