MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: A last chance to regain our trust

MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: After months of folly, a last chance to regain our trust

Rishi Sunak has – so far – settled into Downing Street with impressive smoothness and competence. Even despite his difficulties over Home Secretary Suella Braverman, he has managed to look and sound as if he is instantly in charge and ready for everything the world can throw at him.

Much happiness has also followed his arrival. As the first British-Asian Prime Minister he has without doubt given encouragement and pleasure to many within and beyond that important part of our community. This country has yet again disproved the foolish sneers directed against it by intolerant Left-wingers. And the Tory party has yet again shown itself open to all talent, while Labour has so far failed even to pick a female leader.

Rishi Sunak has – so far – settled into Downing Street with impressive smoothness and competence

This is very much to the good. A great deal of the success of the transition must be owed to the hard, intense experience which our new Premier gained in that most demanding of departments, the Treasury. In his case, his second title of First Lord of the Treasury will be no mere honorific. He knows in grim detail the worrying figures which will limit his actions. And it will be Treasury matters which will clearly dominate the months to come.

For without a sound policy on taxes, spending and borrowing, no government can succeed. However ambitious its aims, it must be able to afford them.

Even despite his difficulties over Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Sunak has managed to look and sound as if he is instantly in charge

And, in his article for The Mail on Sunday today, Mr Sunak is justifiably blunt and honest about what must now happen. He speaks clearly of tough times to come. There is, he says a ‘profound economic crisis’, after the pandemic, the Ukraine war and the inflation that has followed these events.

By his reference to the Blitz, he evokes a spirit of necessary sacrifice, and also of honesty between government and people. When Winston Churchill said he had ‘nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’, the British people did not turn away and demand tax cuts and more spending on their favourite public services. They grasped that they were being spoken to as adults, and behaved as adults, for a higher, if distant purpose.

On a smaller and less dramatic scale, we are required to be adults now. Our ability to do everything we want to do, from reviving the NHS to playing a major role in the world, from better schools to protecting the population against rising prices, even to getting our borders back under control, depends on getting the economy straight.

Prime Minister Sunak’s most vital words are these: ‘As a government, we won’t be able to do everything we want to right now, and there will be no easy choices. We will sometimes have to take the difficult path, so we don’t leave our children and grandchildren with a debt that we were too weak to pay ourselves.’

Prime Minister Sunak’s most vital words are these: ‘As a government, we won’t be able to do everything we want to right now, and there will be no easy choices’

These are wise words. But they are also a warning that taxes are not going to be falling and public spending is going to be severely limited.

It is easy to win short-term plaudits by storing up trouble for our successors or even our children to fix – or worse, fail to fix. But it is wrong and irresponsible. In any case, under our current circumstances, we cannot hesitate to act.

Recent shocks, especially the rise in interest rates, demand action without delay. It is good to see a firm hand on the steering wheel again. Perhaps, now that is so, the Tory Party, after the folly of the past few months, can rediscover its united purpose and recover the confidence of the people too.

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