Andy Richardson: 'Sunak is the man to see us through'

As the dust settles on this week’s budget, it’s entirely possible that the economy is in the hands of a genius.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

Just when it looked like the Government had no rabbits left in the hat, Rishi Sunak delivered a hutch full. Intelligent, poised and down with the detail, the man wrongly perceived as the PM’s lapdog showed leadership.

Sunak has been the stand-out Parliamentarian during Covid-19.

The Treasury has saved millions of jobs through furlough, rescued whole sectors – the arts, being an obvious example – and now is now looking to stimulate the economy, safeguard jobs and promote economic growth. Rishi Sunak, take a bow.

In our region, we can look forward to the housing market spluttering into life thanks to the Stamp Duty holiday. Environmental improvements and the creation of new jobs will come as part of a £3 billion green energy programme.

Sunak’s creative Eat Out to Help Out project will assist the ailing hospitality sector while VAT cuts will help tourism. Sunak is making a material difference. He is saving jobs, businesses, livelihoods and communities.

He’s also schooling the man who appointed him: Boris Johnson. While Johnson is the perfect guy with whom to enjoy a pint, socially distanced, the blustering crowd pleaser is not made of the stuff that Sunak displays each time he steps up to the plate.

Sunak’s creative use of the Treasury’s levers, doubling staff at Job Centres, pouring money into 30,000 new traineeships and brilliantly providing a £1,000 to firms that retain staff following furlough, shows ingenuity.

We are the start of the longest, hardest economic road that any of us have ever known. The man at the helm is perfectly equipped. Unlike Boris, Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab and Priti Patel, Sunak stays two steps ahead.

He’s proactive, rather than reactive; a man in control of his brief, with intelligence and skill and in whom all-comers might have confidence.

Sir Keir Starmer and Annaliese Dodds may well have been simultaneously impressed and dismayed: impressed that Sunak’s programme was full of ideas straight from their Keynesian book of economics and dismayed that they’d have been able to do no better.

He has outmanoeuvred all. There is much more to do. Lower tax receipts, higher unemployment and low productivity are the stuff of nightmares. Sunak, however, is the man to see us through. In his mid-term report, he achieves straight As.

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