Rishi Sunak promises to “correct the mistakes” of its predecessor Truss | International
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Minutes before noon this Tuesday (already one in the afternoon, in Spanish peninsular time), the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, fresh from his meeting with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, outlined in the door of Downing Street the first urgencies of his released Government. “Liz Truss wanted to improve the economic growth of this country. A lofty goal. She admired her tenacity to bring about change. But mistakes were made,” said Sunak. “They were not the result of ill will, but they were mistakes. And I know that I have been elected leader of my party and your prime minister, in part, to correct those mistakes, immediately, ”he added.
His first speech, even before launching a new team, naming the ministers of his Executive, has had greater solidity and firmness than the cold words he addressed to the citizens on Monday, shortly after learning that he had conquered the leadership of the Conservatives. Sunak has promised that he will put economic stability at the heart of the country’s political agenda. For that, however, he has warned citizens that “difficult decisions will come.”
Next Monday, Jeremy Hunt, whom Sunak has decided to retain as Economy Minister this Tuesday, plans to present a new plan of fiscal measures to calm some markets and some investors who continue to watch with concern the drift of the United Kingdom. Hunt knocked out most of the tax cut that Truss had tried to approve, but there is still a considerable hole in the country’s public debt ―caused in large part by the plan to direct aid to households and companies to face the energy crisis ―, and analysts predict that the announcement by Hunt, who will now also belong to Sunak, will mean an increase in some taxes and additional cuts in public spending.
“But you saw me act during the pandemic, and I did everything I could to protect citizens and companies,” argued Sunak, Boris Johnson’s economy minister during the coronavirus crisis, trying to soften his speech. “I will bring that same compassion to the response to today’s challenges. The Government that I am going to lead will not leave the next generation, your children and grandchildren, with a debt that we, due to our weakness, have been unable to pay”, he added. The central reason for his return, and for the confidence that he has managed to arouse during his first hours in charge, has a lot to do with a discourse of fiscal and budgetary responsibility that seeks to repair the reputation of the Conservatives as good managers of public accounts, a reputation ruined during the six weeks of the Government of Liz Truss.
Claim of legitimacy
Sunak knows that his arrival at Downing Street faces double criticism. Many citizens, and the Labor opposition, demand an early election and deny the legitimacy or mandate of the third Conservative Prime Minister in just four months. And the Tories More critics have remembered these days that the 2019 electoral victory really corresponded to Boris Johnson. “I know that Boris Johnson would agree with me. The mandate my party won in 2019 is not the exclusive property of a single individual. It is a mandate that unites us, and that belongs to all of us. And the heart of that mandate is the electoral program, whose promises I will keep”, Sunak tried to make clear.
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But that program almost promised paradise on earth. Improvements in the National Health Service. More schools. More roads. More infrastructure. An economic equalization of all the territories of the United Kingdom. And it was written at a very different time than today, without runaway inflation, rising interest rates, the energy crisis stemming from the war in Ukraine, and the supply crisis caused by an accelerated exit from a two-year pandemic.
Shortly after Sunak delivered his speech, Johnson, who had remained silent after admitting late on Sunday that he did not have the support he believed in and was withdrawing from the competition, took to Twitter: “Congratulations to Rishi Sunak on this historic day. It is time for all of us Conservatives to give our full and sincere support to the new Prime Minister,” he wrote.
Another hug to Brexit
“We will build an economy that embraces the opportunities that Brexit offers,” has promised a new prime minister who supported the UK leaving the EU from the first hour, and campaigned for divorce in the 2016 referendum. On the other hand, that has been the reason why many heavyweights of conservative euroscepticism finally decided to support Sunak’s candidacy.
“I’m not afraid. I know the position to which I arrive, and I am confident that I will be up to the demands. When the opportunity of public service appears, you cannot question the moment, only your own will”, concluded the new prime minister, practically ruled out of public life just two months ago, when he was defeated by Truss in the primaries to replace Johnson. The resurrection of Sunak has been the choice of many conservative deputies, with the hope of also reviving with him a party in low hours and a country observed with disbelief and concern by the rest of the world.
Just two hours before Sunak, her predecessor used the same lectern outside Downing Street to say goodbye to citizens. And she tried to vindicate the achievements that, according to her, her brief government reached: the smooth transition from Elizabeth II to Carlos III, when the monarch died two days after Truss came to her position; the reduction of Social Security contributions, which was increased by the previous Executive of Boris Johnson, of which she was a part; or the package of direct aid to families and companies to deal with the gas and electricity bill, which she promised for a period of two years, before reducing it to six months in the umpteenth rectification of her policies that the markets forced her to To make.
Truss wanted to defend, in his withdrawal, the neoliberal ideology that he tried to promote abruptly when he came to power, and which ended up being the reason for his fall. “As the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca said, not trying is not because things are difficult. Things are difficult because we don’t try”, he has said, to continue justifying the need to lower taxes. His last words, before heading to Buckingham Palace to present his resignation to the king, were also to defend “the freedoms recovered with Brexit” and recommend his successor, Rishi Sunak, to whom he has promised his support, to take advantage of them. . That was the first of his already legendary rudder strokes. The young woman who started out as an anti-monarchist Liberal Democrat, and who later campaigned in 2016 for the UK to remain in the EU, ended up as the champion of conservative eurosceptics, although even that did not save her in recent days. of his ill-fated government.
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