Rishi Sunak makes apology calls to ex-MPs after UK election debacle

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London, Jul 8 (PTI) Former British prime minister Rishi Sunak spent the weekend calling the Conservative Party candidates who lost their seats in the general election last week to apologise for the party’s worst performance at the ballot box, with just 121 seats in the House of Commons.

Several former members of Parliament told ‘The Daily Telegraph’ about the “very sympathetic call” they received from the British Indian MP, who won his own seat of Richmond and Northallerton in Yorkshire and remains the Leader of the Opposition until the Tories elect his successor.

The 44-year-old had apologised to his party colleagues and the nation in his farewell speech at 10 Downing Street on Friday, when he also announced his resignation as Tory leader after the Labour Party won a landslide victory with 411 MPs in a 650-seat Commons.

“He took the time to ring me on a Saturday night and I think he’s taken the time to ring other MPs. He was ringing to say that he was incredibly sorry that I’d lost my seat,” an unseated Tory MP was quoted as saying.

“To all the Conservative candidates and campaigners who worked tirelessly but without success, I am sorry that we could not deliver what your efforts deserved,” Sunak said in his speech last week.

Frontrunners to replace him as party leader are working behind-the-scenes to shore up their support. Former home secretary Suella Braverman, who has been openly critical of Sunak’s leadership, is among the contenders but her campaign received an early blow as one of her supporters switched loyalties to her former home office colleague, Robert Jenrick.

Others lining up for the race include two more former home secretaries Priti Patel and James Cleverly and former business secretary Kemi Badenoch. Further former ministers from the Sunak Cabinet, Victoria Atkins and Tom Tugendhat, are also likely to throw their hat in the ring when the contours of the contest are devised by the party’s 1922 Committee – which will be electing its new chair after the election.

Meanwhile, the new Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, spent his first weekend in office travelling to different parts of the United Kingdom starting with Scotland. He will then embark on his first foreign visit as PM for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) meeting in Washington to set the tone for his Labour government's relations with US President Joe Biden's administration and other international allies.

On Saturday, he spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the leaders agreed to meet at the “earliest opportunity”.

“Discussing the Free Trade Agreement, the prime minister said he stood ready to conclude a deal that worked for both sides. The leaders hoped to meet at the earliest opportunity,” a Downing Street spokesperson said about the call. PTI AK SCY SCY