RISHI SUNAK is turning into the Marmite candidate for the Tory leadership – you either love him or hate him.

You love him for having the guts to say that tax cuts are desirable but only when they are affordable, and for refusing to demonise Boris Johnson. You love him because he is clever, on top of the details and organised in a way Mr Johnson never was, and because his innovation helped steer the country’s economy through the pandemic.

Or you hate him because he raised taxes to their highest level since 1949, because he stuck with the discredited Johnson practically to the end, because he too picked up a fine for breaking Covid rules, because he and his wife are so rich they can never understand how the cost of living crisis is going to effect the 50 per cent of children growing up in relative poverty in Middlesbrough, because his PR stunts – like filling someone else’s car up at the petrol pump – are so transparent.

Among the last eight candidates, the Richmond MP is the only one with a seat north of the Wash, so there is little doubt that he has the best understanding of our local economy – he has been pump priming the Teesworks site, for instance. And as Chancellor, he still has several projects, most notably the Treasury move to Darlington, that are incomplete and need to be seen through.

Local observations are that he is incredibly energetic, able to soak up information like a sponge, is able to build a team around him and, perhaps most importantly, has been able to reach out to bluff Yorkshiremen and get them on his side.

We have no vote in this battle, but we can see why he is the favourite of many of our local MPs.