At first glance, Prime Minister Risha Sunak’s opening questions were a confident performance.

The former chancellor was combative, confident and fluid. But it was also a session in which the new prime minister showed us how aware he is that his political legitimacy hangs in the balance.

Because the appointment of some 200 Conservative MPs behind closed doors as Britain’s 57th Prime Minister is bound to raise questions about his democratic mandate.

That this happened just seven weeks after the Conservatives foisted another prime minister on the British public – Liz Truss – turns these questions into accusations of democratic backlash.

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The Labor Party, the SNP and the Lib Dems know this, so at PMQs they bet on Mr. Sunak for being near that box at all.

Sir Keir Starmer blasted his new opponent – his third in four months – as someone who was “not on the side of Labour”, before adding: “That’s why the only time he ran a competitive election he was beaten by a former prime minister. which got on the salad itself.”

He again called for general elections.

Mr Sunak, however, is having none of it as he teased Sir Keir for backing a second EU referendum – “he’s talking about mandates, that’s a bit rich coming from the man who tried to overturn the biggest democratic vote in our country’s history.” – and again spoke about preserving the 2019 manifesto.

Stick to it because Mr Sunak knows he’s on sticky ground trying to tiptoe into Number 10 and stay there until the next general election in a couple of years without asking the British people for their opinion.

That’s why on the steps of Number 10 and in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Sunak was talking about the Conservatives He won the party’s mandate in 2019 as he sought to wrest that victory directly from the hands of campaign manager Boris Johnson.

“I will always be grateful to Boris Johnson for his incredible achievements as Prime Minister, and I appreciate his warmth and generosity of spirit,” he said.

“And I know he will agree that the mandate won by my party in 2019 is not the property of one person, it is a mandate that belongs to and unites us all.”

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How did Sunak go at the first PMQs?

And that manifesto, which Liz Truss tried to deviate from, is now being revived by Mr Sunak, who is trying to settle his party and consolidate his position.

A big step from him on Wednesday was to reinstate the ban on frackinga manifesto commitment from 2019 that Ms Truss sought to reverse and which ultimately proved to be her undoing when she turned Labour’s movement on the issue into a vote of confidence in her government.

On paper, she won, but the movement triggered her downfall in the chaos surrounding the vote.

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More significantly, in the summer leadership race, Mr Sunak told Sky News that he supported fracking where local people approved of it.

Then his willingness to drop it is a sign that he doesn’t want to rock the boat with either Tory MPs or the public when it comes to scrutinizing this mandate.

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Sunak adheres to the fracking manifesto

It also makes sense for the pension triple lock – the promise to raise pensions based on inflation, average earnings or 2.5%, whichever is the highest.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the inflation-linked increase will cost the Exchequer £5.7bn.

But it’s hard to see how Mr. Sunak is doing anything else on November 17.

He may have fallen out with Boris Johnson, but he is tied to his predecessor’s plan.

Mrs. Truss was removed because she did not respect the limits of her mandate.

Mr. Sunak knows that sticking to it will be his best chance of survival, not only with his party, but with the country as a whole.