One year on: How has Rishi Sunak fared as Prime Minister?
Simon Danczuk, businessman, author and former MP, assesses Rishi Sunak’s performance as Prime Minister 12 months into his tenure.
This last week has marked the one-year anniversary of Rishi Sunak being Prime Minister. By recent Conservative standards, he’s done well simply surviving that long. But what should we make of Rishi’s performance over the last 12 months and how well has it prepared the Conservatives for the General Election?
Economic stability and growth?
Following on from Liz Truss’s period of economic chaos, there is little doubt that the PM has steadied the ship, the economy is more stable and we’re finally achieving some growth, all be it small. Inflation is slowly coming down, which should signal a decent reduction in interest rates at some stage.
He secured the Windsor Framework for Northern Ireland trade, effectively delivering the final element of Brexit. He’s managed to get trade agreements with a range of countries, and he’s signed the AUKUS nuclear submarine partnership with the US and Australia, helping trade and our defence capabilities.
Talking of defence, Rishi has been a strong ally of Ukraine, something the public wants, and he’s now supporting Israel in their hour of need. He’s also done a U-turn on both net zero targets and on HS2 which are welcomed by some and not by others.
In recent weeks, he’s even made progress on illegal immigration. It’s being pointed out that people smuggled here in small boats is lower than last year and the Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick MP, is now reducing the numbers being housed in hotels.
There have been lows for Rishi, however, not least his opinion poll ratings and inability to win by-elections. It feels like sleaze – whether it’s pandemic or sex-related – has proliferated under his leadership, as have picket lines and strike action. A consequence of this latter point is that waiting times in the NHS remain high – something he pledged to tackle.
In conclusion, it’s fair to say there’s no love for Rishi. His own MPs kept refusing to choose him, and the public don’t rate him very highly, seeing him as out of touch and not very clubbable. Then again, the public isn’t in love with Keir Starmer either, and so when push comes to shove at the General Election what’s likely to happen?
It’s still my guess that voters might just go with ‘better the devil you know’ – and Rishi wins with a small majority.
Simon Danczuk is a businessman, author and former MP who represented the constituency of Rochdale between 2010 and 2017. He has co-written two books, Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith and Scandal at Dolphin Square.