Steerpike Steerpike

Rishi Sunak thanks his supporters

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

There’s not much for the Tories to cheer about at the moment but there was little sign of the blues last night in Leicester Square. Members of Rishi Sunak’s campaign packed out the Londoner Hotel to toast their king over the water with glasses of English sparkling wine. In what his supporters insist was an event long in the diary, MPs, spinners and activists gathered to hear the man himself give a belated thanks to all those who had backed him.

Fresh off the back of his Treasury farewell on Wednesday night, Sunak was on his best behaviour, declining the chance to declare vindication at his triumphant rival’s recent woes. Instead, he told the crowd about his gratitude and called the leadership race – in which he lost by 15 points to Liz Truss – the ‘best professional experience of my life’. If so, Mr S would hate to see the worst. He also found time to make some jokes, quipping that his speech would be short as ‘Liam was no longer writing them’ – a nod to longtime aide Liam Booth-Smith – and adding that he ‘wasn’t sure what to wear this evening’ so luckily he had ‘some fashion tips from Nadine’, a reference to her caustic criticisms of his Prada shoes during the race.

Most of the big guns of the campaign were there in attendance, with Mel Stride, Oliver Dowden, Mark Harper and Richard Holden among the MPs in the room. Given the calls in today’s Times for a Sunak-Mordaunt premiership, could attendees have been given a preview of the next Tory cabinet? Watch this space…

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