GREG Clark has said he is ‘proud’, ‘delighted’ and ‘relieved’ that Rishi Sunak has become the country’s new PM following weeks of chaos in the Conservative Party.
The Tunbridge Wells MP, who was made Levelling Up Secretary towards the end of Boris Johnson’s premiership, came out in support of Mr Sunak on Friday and nominated him for the job.
Mr Clark was pictured with Rishi Sunak during the last leadership election when the former Chancellor visited Tunbridge Wells in July during his unsuccessful former run to be PM against Ms Truss.
During that visit, Mr Sunak caused a furore when a leaked video of him at the Tunbridge Wells Constitutional Club in Sandrock Road suggested he had begun moving finding from deprived areas of the country to places such as Tunbridge Wells.
At the time, Mr Clark refused to say who he wanted to be the next PM, but this time around, the Tunbridge Wells MP openly backed Mr Sunak and was among the 165+ Tory members who nominated him for the leadership job.
Now writing for the Times, Mr Clark says Rishi Sunak, who officially became the UK’s fifth PM in just six years after meeting the King on Tuesday, was a man ‘of intelligence, decency and capability who I am proud to support’.
“I hope that Rishi will bring together into his Government people from across the breadth of the Conservative Party and not do as his predecessor did, appoint virtually exclusively their own supporters.
He said: “During the Summer leadership campaign, Rishi Sunak showed that he understood what was needed.
“It came at considerable detriment to his own electoral prospects because people are never keen on whoever is the bearer of tough news. But he was right, he refused to be intimidated into hiding the truth, and he has been vindicated by events.
“Rishi Sunak also got things right during Covid. I vividly recall asking an Urgent Question in the House of Commons during the first days of the pandemic to bring the then Chancellor’s attention to the concerns of local businesses in Tunbridge Wells that they were facing imminent bankruptcy and that thousands of people would be made unemployed.”
Mr Sunak’s election as new PM follows weeks of turmoil in the Conservative Party that saw not only newly elected Prime Minister Liz Truss resign after just 44 days in office, but also saw the sacking of Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and a U-turn on his minibudget when it caused consternation in the markets.
But Mr Clark believes the best way to unify the party now will be to ensure the new PM does not just give jobs to his own backers.
He said: “I hope that, as our new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak will start as he means to go on. Everyone is fed up of division and tension. There is a yearning for us to come together, to be respectful of each other and to lay differences aside to work for the common good.
“And that team should work hand in hand, united in pursuing the national interest.”
He also threw his support behind the decision to make Jeremy Hunt Chancellor adding: “Jeremy Hunt’s appointment as Chancellor has already calmed the financial markets substantially.
“But that was not sufficient – to get back on track we needed a Prime Minister who understands what is needed to bring inflation under control and keep interest rates as low as possible consistent with that.”
Read Mr Clark’s full column only in the Times of Tunbridge Wells out Wednesday, October 26.