HENRY DEEDES watches Rishi Sunak launch bid to become Prime Minister

Folksy sincerity oozed out of golden boy’s every pore: HENRY DEEDES watches Rishi Sunak launch his bid to become Prime Minister

High-pitched squealing, placard waving – not to mention a few middle-aged ladies getting all steamy around the gills. For a moment there, it could have been a giddy teenyboppers’ convention rather than a leadership launch.

But then there’s always been a bit of boyband energy about Rishi Sunak. Those moon eyes, that butter-wouldn’t-melt smile and pretty boy charms which sends activists all wobbly at the kneecaps.

His showing yesterday was a precision piece of performance art. A heavy dose of saccharine, with a side order of schmaltz thrown in. Sickly, yes. But I fear he’s going to take some stopping.

Our setting was the QEII centre in Westminster where a stage had been erected, emblazoned with his newly-coined ‘Ready For Rishi’ logo. 

It’s reminiscent of the sort of emblem you see stamped across a tub of washing powder. You know, one which boasts of a new, improved formula with extra added ZING! Maybe that’s the idea.








Rishi Sunak, 42, launched his leadership bid at the QEII centre in Westminster on Tuesday - emblazoned with his newly-coined ¿Ready For Rishi¿ logo

Rishi Sunak, 42, launched his leadership bid at the QEII centre in Westminster on Tuesday – emblazoned with his newly-coined ‘Ready For Rishi’ logo

Only a week ago, Rishi was still Boris¿s neighbour. Now he spoke of him as one might about an embarrassing uncle who has a bit of a thirst and weakness for the horses.

Only a week ago, Rishi was still Boris’s neighbour. Now he spoke of him as one might about an embarrassing uncle who has a bit of a thirst and weakness for the horses.

Around the room stood several slickly-suited men pensively stroking their chins. Wealthy backers would be my guess. This campaign reeks of both professionalism and oodles of cash.

Our support act for the day was a couple of starry new recruits. Joining Team Rishi were deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab   and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who had done the decent thing and put his badly-limping campaign out of its misery.

Both men arrived to sounds that they may have not have been entirely accustomed to – enthusiastic cheering. Mr Shapps looked dazed, as though he had just won a prize.

In the audience a number of high-profile Tories jostled for position. Former party chairman Oliver Dowden was there, as were ex-Treasury bods John Glen and Helen Whately, each one’s adoring eyes flickering with a puppy dog’s yearning for a juicy new job offer.

Hovering in the shadows in one corner was the hyena-shaped silhouette of former education minister Gavin Williamson. Hovering? Prowling more like.

Eventually, Mr Sunak bounded into view, suit and tie pristine, his hair as crimped and coiffed as the barnet of Barbie’s boyfriend Ken. The crowd whooped deliriously. Mercifully, no undergarments were thrown on stage.

Not everyone was swallowing the nice guy routine. Sky¿s Beth Rigby accused Rishi of being a ¿corrosive¿ figure within his party and tackled him over his wife¿s tax arrangements. The crowd didn¿t enjoy that.

Not everyone was swallowing the nice guy routine. Sky’s Beth Rigby accused Rishi of being a ‘corrosive’ figure within his party and tackled him over his wife’s tax arrangements. The crowd didn’t enjoy that.

The former chancellor shot his supporters one of those wide smiles which could power the national grid. Folksy sincerity oozed out of every pore.

‘I want to talk about how we got here,’ he announced softly. Simple answer to that, matey. You resigned and then turned on your boss.

He insisted he’d come to praise Boris though, not bury him. The Prime Minister was a ‘remarkable leader’ he said, who had ‘a good heart’, gawd bless ‘im.

Yes, he was flawed ‘but so are we all’ he added. Strange. Only a week ago, Rishi was still Boris’s neighbour. Now he spoke of him as one might about an embarrassing uncle who has a bit of a thirst and weakness for the horses.

His pitch had a ‘no time for a novice’ flavour. By my count, he used the term ‘grown-up’ on three occasions, suggesting he regards his leadership rivals as naive tiddlers.

He pledged a clean fight then straight away accused some of his colleagues of spinning ‘fairy tales’ with their pledges to cut taxes, something he’s ruled out for the time being.

Beside me, a planted cheerleader clapped enthusiastically.

Not everyone was swallowing the nice guy routine. Sky’s Beth Rigby accused Rishi of being a ‘corrosive’ figure within his party and tackled him over his wife’s tax arrangements. The crowd didn’t enjoy that. 

Leave off the golden boy! Some of them booed. Pathetic. They can expect plenty of probing into the Sunak family finances in the coming weeks.

A man from The Sun inquired as to whether he’d spoken with Dominic Cummings since the former aide slithered out of Downing Street. Certainly not, came Rishi’s response. Nor did he intend to either. Audible gasps of relief from nervous Tory MPs.

The other broadcasters just wanted to know one thing: Why’d ya knife Boris? A reasonable enough question, and one which will probably cause problems should Rishi eventually face the party membership.