Has Rishi Sunak set his sights on replacing Liz Truss? Here’s what insiders have to say

Conservative MPs who supported Mr Sunak, including those closely involved in his last campaign and who have spoken to him recently, offered The Telegraph an insight into the current thinking.

The pitch for Mr Sunak is consistently delivered: That a politician who steered the economy through Covid and warned of the risk of debt-fueled tax cuts is best placed to calm markets. What is less clear is how to overcome the obstacles – being an MP who was only rejected by party members last month, whose policies are bitterly opposed by a not insignificant number of Tory colleagues.

Last week, talk of who might succeed Mrs Truss was loose and speculative among MPs; since her Friday turns, it seems to have kicked up a gear real plot among some.

The scale of the operation among what was Team Rishi should not be overstated.

The campaign’s WhatsApp group remains dormant. Support MPs hoping to get the call remain in the dark. The potential candidate himself was really devastated by last month’s defeat, his allies say, and is deliberately trying not to do anything that could be seen as leadership. His closest backers don’t hit the airwaves. Partly it is to avoid a repetition of “Boris the traitor” tale that haunted him during the summer competition after his resignation triggered a ministerial impression at the door.

‘Why should we be happy about this? It’s terrible’

An MP who recently spoke to Mr Sunak said: “People like me and him are absolutely devastated by what has happened. That’s the dominant thing, the feeling of deep frustration and regret. Not cheerful as it often is being presented. Why should we be happy about this? It’s terrible.”

But some moves are nevertheless on the way. A dinner of MPs aligned with Mr Sunak will be held this week. Supporters present the case privately to colleagues and journalists.

Another MP who is in contact with the former chancellor summed up the pitch: “If you have to change the leader in a financial or economic crisis of confidence, you have to choose the person who has the best chance of stabilizing the markets. The financial markets really only know one of the likely candidates.”

The source added that over the weekend they had spoken to two dealers in gold – long-term government bonds whose falling value has destabilized Downing Street. Your advice, according to MP? The markets will only settle after a change in prime minister. Jeremy Hunt’s installation in the Treasury is seen as a blessing. The former foreign minister endorsed Mr Sunak for the leadership after his own short bid failed and preaches the same need to avoid borrowing for tax cuts.

Two Sunak supporters told The Telegraph they believed Mr Hunt would be kept in No. 11 if he reaches No. 10. “A fifth chancellor in five months would spook the markets,” said one, pointing to Mr. Hunt’s long cabinet experience as a calming influence. Perhaps the biggest obstacle between Mr Sunak and Downing Street is the Tory Right.

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