Sunak is starting to make Truss look good

by Tom Hewitt

From her woodenness in public, to her U-turn on opposition to Brexit, to allegations of being a lightweight with no record of real ministerial achievement, much of the Tory leadership campaign has focused on Liz Truss’s limitations. But in the process similar scrutiny of Sunak has been lacking, for the problems with his candidacy are manifold. 

Starting with his manner. Brits have always tended to bristle at American tech start-up types, with their gelled hair, corny gospels and overly slick manner. It is no surprise then that his campaign launch dotted with QR codes (including even on the Sunak branded ‘sunscreen’ handed out by his team) made many in Westminster cringe. 

Most nerve-jangling was the release of his ‘Ready for Rishi’ campaign video. Filmed from the audience in the handheld documentary style – in an attempt to make his corporate campaign look like a bottom-up people movement – Sunak waxed lyrical over hotel advert style music about how ‘guys we’ve totally smashed it, well done!’ but ‘you’ve worked your socks off. By God we’ve got here in some style’. So disastrous was the video, following a hilarious alternate version intercut with scenes of exasperated colleagues from The Office, it has unsurprisingly since been taken down. 

If it was just his Blue Peter style presentation perhaps Sunak could be given a pass. But much of his team is second division. From Matt Hancock, to Oliver Dowden, to Gavin Williamson – Sunak has surrounded himself with some of the also-rans from the previous regime. There are even rumours he may appoint the unimpressive Robert Jenrick as his Chancellor. 

More importantly, his own record as Chancellor is poor. Taxes are at a 70 year high. Business investment flat. The budget deficit over £100bn: by his own metrics he’s not even a good bean counter. 

Perhaps least well judged was his decision to give Treasury sign off for an extra £150bn of fake money printing (also known as Quantitative Easing) for the period following the end of lockdowns – a time when the economy was already starting to recover. This decision has undoubtably contributed to the present levels of high inflation, particularly in the housing market, where prices are now nonsensically over 24 per cent higher than pre-pandemic, despite the worst recession in 300 years in the interim. 

Thanks to his policies Britain now looks likely to be heading towards another recession. Something that will only become more certain if his anti-business rise in corporation tax to 25 per cent and planned five-year freeze of income tax thresholds, most alarmingly at a time of a thirty-year inflation high, goes ahead. And something which he will struggle to justify given his £730bn private fortune, non-dom wife and US green card in tow. 

Liz Truss may not be a world-beater, but to cut to the chase as his Californian friends might say, it is far from obvious Rishi Sunak would be any better. 

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