“Made some mistakes.”
In his first speech as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak made it very clear with the four-word letter that he wanted to be as close as possible to his politically radiant predecessor Liz Truss. Truss) keep your distance.
It’s an unusually blunt assessment of his colleague, but it’s clear why Sunak wants to present himself as (yet another) new face of Britain. Truss’ tenure spelled disaster for the British economy, while Sunak positioned himself as the man to balance the books and bring stability to the country.
He will begin the task when he starts appointing his cabinet later on Tuesday. Some want to extend an olive branch to those on the right wing of the party, but after yet another Downing Street chaos, Sunak must balance unity and harmony.
It remains to be seen whether the economic debate within the Conservative Party is truly resolved.
In her own 416-word farewell address — eight words per day as a leader — Liz Truss made no apology for the impact of her financial plan.
Instead, Truss made a final attempt to defend her vision. “We simply cannot afford to be a low-growth country with the government taking an ever-increasing share of our national wealth,” Truss said, calling for “lower taxes” and emphasising growth.
Truss could seek to tap into her remaining political capital by becoming an outspoken backbencher. Sunak will also have to deal with the continued presence of his rival, Boris Johnson, and the considerable traction he still has within the party. He must hit back at a general election call for Labour, which is surging in polls after a year of crisis at the top of the ruling bloc.
Faced with potential enemies on all sides and dire economic headwinds, some may wonder why Sunak even wants the job.
But “when an opportunity for service arises, you can’t question the moment, only your will,” Sunak said outside Downing Street.
That will may be tested in the coming months. For now, though, Sunak has landed his dream job on his second attempt, marking a historic day for England.
Read more about Sunak’s appointment here.