London, Jan 14: Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is now the frontrunner to replace UK PM Borris Johnson. Rishi Sunak is a conservative party leader of Indian origin.
On Wednesday, Labour leader Keir Starmer for the first time joined other opposition chiefs in demanding Johnson's resignation.
Betfair says the clock seems to be ticking for 57-year-old Johnson, who is facing pressure not only from the Opposition but also from within his own Conservative Party to step down in the wake of revelations of a drinks party at Downing Street during the country’s first Covid-19 lockdown in May 2020.
Conspicuously, Sunak was missing from the House of Commons chamber on Wednesday when his boss issued a “heartfelt apology” for the apparent breach of lockdown guidelines.
“I’ve been on a visit all day today continuing work on our #PlanForJobs as well as meeting MPs to discuss the energy situation,” Sunak, 41, tweeted, in an attempt to quash speculation that his absence by Johnson’s side in Parliament was an attempt to distance himself from the beleaguered party leader.
“The PM was right to apologize and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry,” Sunak, who is the Chancellor of the Exchequer since February 2020, said.
Some newspapers have interpreted the timing and content of Sunak’s message of support as lukewarm backing for his boss and neighbor in Downing Street, the BBC reported.
Senior civil servant Sue Gray is currently investigating all alleged lockdown breaches within government quarters, including at Downing Street.
There have been a string of revelations around similar events in recent weeks, which Johnson has tried to justify as work events within the premises of his workplace. But there is growing infighting and disquiet within Tory party ranks, with many backbenchers speaking out to say his position was untenable after attending what appeared to be gatherings in breach of the rules in place at the time.
“In terms of a replacement, long term favorite Rishi Sunak still heads the betting at 15/8, with (Foreign Secretary) Liz Truss at 11/4 and (Cabinet Minister) Michael Gove at 6/1 the next two most likely alternatives should the PM vacate Number 10,” Betfair’s Sam Rosbottom told ‘Wales Online’.
Other senior Tories in the running include former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt at 8/1 and Indian-origin Home Secretary Priti Patel, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Cabinet Minister Oliver Dowden all tied for fifth place with 14/1.