Cost of living crisis: With Boris Johnson a lame duck and Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss squabbling, the UK Government is effectively awol – Scotsman comment

After his opening pitch to Conservative party members as the ‘sensible’ leadership candidate met a lacklustre response, Rishi Sunak has now pledged to cut the basic rate of income tax to just 16p in the pound.

As Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss continue to squabble, Boris Johnson is going on holiday (Picture: Jacob King/WPA pool/Getty Images)
As Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss continue to squabble, Boris Johnson is going on holiday (Picture: Jacob King/WPA pool/Getty Images)

Those impressed by the idea of the former Chancellor as a champion of sound economics may regard this as just a little too wild, desperate even, for all that it was caveated by the lengthy deadline of 2029.

There would, of course, be the small matter of a general election before that at which the country, not just Conservative party members, would have a say in who should be in 10 Downing Street.

Recent polling by YouGov found that while Tory members prefer Truss to Sunak by a substantial margin, the general public appear to narrowly prefer Sunak.

Their net personal ratings make for troubling reading for Conservatives with minus 30 for Sunak and minus 32 for Truss, well behind Labour leader Keir Starmer on minus 18, but also well ahead of Boris Johnson on minus 45.

Part of the reason for their unpopularity may be the leadership debate’s focus on immigration and cutting taxes at a time when tackling the cost-of-living crisis should be uppermost in all our politicians’ minds.

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While Truss’s plan for a staggering £30 billion tax cut would put more money in people’s pockets, the effect will be offset if rampant inflation continues to erode people’s actual spending power. There is a great deal of sense behind Sunak’s plan to first control inflation before making inflationary tax cuts.

Hopes that Johnson, Sunak and Truss would put aside their differences in order to agree an improved package of measures to help the most vulnerable people in good time for the next expected rise in energy prices seem to be evaporating with our lame duck Prime Minister planning a holiday from Wednesday.

With our government effectively going awol in the midst of a growing crisis, it looks like the country should prepare itself for weeks more of increasingly bitter and snide squabbling about who is the most ideologically pure disciple of Margaret Thatcher.

If there’s a process better able to demonstrate the worst side of a political party while simultaneously bringing the business of government to a virtual standstill, we can’t think of it.

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