Sunak’s rallying call for Tories to ‘unite’ behind Truss after miss…

Lizz Truss snubs Sunak handshake as she wins leadership contest

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The ex-Chancellor vowed to support the new Prime Minister “as she steers the country through difficult times.” But Mr Sunak’s next moves could have a significant bearing on his victor’s premiership in the months ahead.

The man who helped trigger the downfall of Boris Johnson with his bombshell resignation still holds significant sway within the Tory party.

He was the most popular candidate during several rounds of voting by Conservative MPs and was only 21,000 votes behind Ms Truss in the final members run-off.

Along with Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt – not to mention Mr Johnson himself – he could form a hugely influential triumvirate of backbench big beasts.

A Tory source said: “He could be a thorn in the side for Liz if he chooses to do so. He could be very powerful on the backbenches, especially on economic issues.”

Others say he won’t be a “petulant” backbencher and will be “dignified” in his interventions.

What appears certain is that the father of two daughters, aged nine and 11, won’t be quitting politics anytime soon,  insisting he will continue to work as an MP, representing his Yorkshire constituency of Richmond.

And he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of running for the Tory leadership in the future, telling the BBC. “We’ve just finished this campaign. I’d say… I need to recover from this one,” he said.

One thing he won’t be doing is serving in the Truss government, signalling earlier in the campaign that he would refuse a cabinet job if offered one.

A number of Tory MPs have speculated privately that he may even call it a day on politics and return to California to resume a career in finance.

But Mr Sunak has scotched such suggestions publicly, while friends have suggested he has no need to cash in on his reputation.

“He is absolutely minted, and he never really talks about it,” one said.

“He’s not driven by the acquisition of more wealth, like George Osborne and David Cameron. He gave it all up in his mid-thirties to go to work for Policy Exchange and embed himself.”

Allies believe that Mr Sunak will settle for pursuing a number of pet projects from the back benches such as championing champion farming and agriculture.

He is also expected to contribute regularly to debates on inflation and the economy as well as promoting the need for greater investment in research and development and clamping down on reckless public spending.

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