THE second cabinet minister to resign prompting the downfall of Boris Johnson’s government, Rishi Sunak has reportedly been planning his leadership for months.

The former chancellor has come under fire in recent months for his finances, holding a US green card and his wife’s non-dom status.

He currently has the most endorsements of all 10 candidates - but will it be enough to see him through to the final two?

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Who is Rishi Sunak?

A relatively unknown MP for Richmond (Yorks) just four years ago, Sunak was parachuted into the chancellor’s seat as Johnson reshuffled his Cabinet in 2020, after fellow contender Sajid Javid quit after Johnson and Dominic Cummings reportedly demanded he dismiss his advisers.

Sunak has since then presided over the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, furlough, raising the National Insurance contribution, scrabbing the pensions triple lock, writing off over £40 billion in Covid fraud and numerous other damaging policy decisions.

Before politics, Sunak attended plush private boarding school Winchester College, before going on to study politics at Oxford and then Stanford University in California on a Fullbright scholarship.

The National: Sunak has the most endorsements from Tory MPs so farSunak has the most endorsements from Tory MPs so far

What is Rishi Sunak pledging if he wins the leadership contest?

Sunak is the only prime ministerial hopeful who has not pledged swinging tax cuts in a bid to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Instead, Sunak has said he would not sell voters a “fairytale” and criticised his opponents for suggesting a policy plan that is “not credible”.

In his first leadership pitch to the Mail on Sunday, Sunak said he would reverse the trend of gender-neutral language, adding: “We must be able to call a mother a mother and talk about breastfeeding”.

What has Rishi Sunak said about Scotland?

In July last year, Sunak said that Scottish independence was not what voters wanted him to focus on.

However in 2017 he said that blocking a referendum would not be the right choice, adding: "It seems hard to block a referendum but we should push the timing until after Brexit so the choice is clearer for people. A good deal will strengthen the case for the Union.”

By 2020, a colleague of Sunak's claimed that he had insisted England should break away from the rest of the UK to maximise profits, which Sunak later denied. In December 2019, Sunak told journalist Andrew Marr that indyref2 should not take place under any circumstances. 

In June 2022, Sunak claimed that the Scottish Government was “imposing austerity” as he dodged calls to bring in more assistance for the cost of living crisis.

During a visit to Aberdeen in the same month, Sunak was criticised for dodging media scrutiny as he met with oil and gas bosses to discuss the windfall tax.

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Who is backing Rishi Sunak for leader?

Sunak has the highest number of Tory MPs backing him for the leadership - with 44 publicly coming out in support since the launch of his campaign.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab joined Sunak’s team and opened his launch event on Tuesday, while Grant Shapps pulled out of the race to join Sunak’s team.

Other notable endorsements include: energy minister Greg Hands, former trade minister Liam Fox, former Scotland Office PPS Ruth Edwards and Aberdeenshire MP Andrew Bowie.

What is Rishi Sunak’s voting record?

The multimillionare has frequently voted for a reduction in welfare benefits, a stricter immigration system and stronger enforcement of immigration rules.

Sunak has also generally voted against further integration with the EU and for military action in a number of circumstances. He also voted against removing hereditary peers from the House of Lords and making the chamber fully elected.