Rishi Sunak says he is the PM candidate to beat Labour

Former chancellor rejects claims that his personal wealth prevents him from appreciating the problems facing hard-pressed households

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Former UK chancellor Rishi Sunak reminded Conservative voters that his centrist credentials would play a key role in keeping the party in government, saying in an interview that he was the candidate to beat the Labour Party.

"We know that there are challenging times ahead," he said. "I've got the experience and the energy not just to deal with them in an honest, responsible way, but also the vision to grow the economy to make sure that we can grasp all the exciting opportunities ahead."

He told BBC Radio that he had the skills to combat Sir Keir Starmer, the lead of the Labour Party.

"What matters is who can beat Labour in a general election. And I'm convinced that I'm the best person to beat Keir Starmer and the Labour Party in the next election."

The banker turned politician insisted his wealth and background did not prevent him from understanding the plight of hard-pressed households.

“I don’t judge people by their bank accounts, I judge them by their character and I think people can judge me by my actions over the past couple of years," he said.

“Whenever I have needed to step in to support people I have and furlough is a fantastic example of that.

“But what I would say as a Conservative, is I believe in hard work and aspiration and that’s my story and if I’m prime minister then I’ll be making the case for that with vigour."

Mr Sunak, the former finance minister whose resignation last week helped to trigger the fall of Boris Johnson's government, said he understood the financial pressures facing the country.

"When the pandemic hit, I understood full well the impact it could have on millions of people up and down the country," he said.

Updated: July 14, 2022, 8:55 AM