202 MPs support Sunak - but 400,000 of you vote for General Election Now

A total of 202 Tory MPs are backing Rishi Sunak to become the next prime minister – but nearly 400,000 readers of The Independent are now demanding their opinion in the form of a general election.

In less than a week, more than 390,000 people have entered their names in a petition created by this newspaper arguing that it is time for voters to decide who should rule the country.

The former chancellor was appointed Tory leader on Monday after he won the support of a majority of Tory lawmakers, and his rivals Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt both withdrew from the race. He is expected to head to Buckingham Palace to meet King Charles III to take over at No 10 on Tuesday.

Mr Sunak ruled out the election quickly after it was announced he would be the second Conservative MP to be given the key to No 10 since the last national vote in 2019, after a race that eventually became a coronation based solely on Tory MPs.

Speaking after he was crowned by the 1922 Backbencher Committee on Monday afternoon, Sunak made it clear to Tory MPs in closed-door meetings that he would not be leaving for the country early.

Tory lawmaker Simon Hoare said opposition parties "always wanted elections" but Sunak had ruled them out. "His main message to the public was, 'Can you give us some space and time, can you give us more of your patience?' And he'd think it was worth their time."

One lawmaker was quoted as saying that Sunak “made clear that he would be leaving [to the polls] in two years”, while another reportedly said he had “made clear that it is still a long way off for the next election”.

As it happens, the last date on which the next general election can take place under the law is January 2025. The PM has the power to decide any date before that. Angela Rayner MP, deputy leader of the Labor Party, reiterated the party's call for a general election, tweeting: "Nobody voted for this."

In a statement, he added: “What we are seeing played out is a coronation here and not an actual election where people have a mandate to serve the British people in this country.

“Rishi Sunak was rejected by his own party membership just a few weeks ago.

"People in this country now deserve us to go to the electorate to put forward our policies on how we are going to deal with the cost of living crisis that the Conservatives have given the British people and let them have a say in."

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said Tory MPs had "appointed another prime minister with no plans to repair the damage and without giving the British people a voice".

The SNP said the Tories "cannot be allowed to impose a third prime minister without a general election".

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said Sunak should accept the vote and "shouldn't let go of another round of austerity".

Westminster Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts said her coronation by 202 MPs was "anti-democratic", while Green MP Caroline Lucas said it was "hard to think of a prime minister with fewer mandates to govern than Rishi Sunak".

Fellow Tory and Secretary of State Zac Goldsmith broke down the rankings on Sunday night to warn that it was "morally unavoidable" for his party to reject the state vote.

Mr Goldsmith, minister of state for Asia, energy, climate and the environment, said it would be impossible to have a third new prime minister and policies "miles away from the original manifesto" without a general election. It comes as new polls find nearly two-thirds of voters want a general election before the end of the year. About 62 percent of people told polling firm Ipsos that they would like to see elections held in 2022, after Rishi Sunak takes office.

The proportion of public calls for elections has increased since Liz Truss announced her resignation on October 20.

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