Rishi Sunak survives his first 100 days, but can he thrive? | Beth Rigby | Politics News

Rishi Sunak’s first 100 days as prime minister have come to an end – a metric that his predecessor, Liz Truss, never even achieved, while Boris Johnson finds himself utterly exhausted. with fighting a pandemic.

Mr. Sunak can be somewhat reassured by the fact that he has come this far without encountering a full-blown leadership crisis or external global event that has put his plan to form a government in jeopardy. wildly deflected.

But the prime minister, in good faith, can hardly say that his first 100 days have been successful.

Direct political: What polls tell us about Sunak’s performance

These early months in power are symbolic for political leaders because they serve as a benchmark for early successes (or failures).

This is also often a honeymoon period in which a leader is highly approved, usually winning an election.

But for Mr. Sunak, that was not the case. There is little warm light around his leadership, while his approval ratings have gone in the wrong direction during his first 100 days.

You can see why, writing in The Sun on his 100th anniversary, the prime minister asked voters not to judge him in his first days in power, but to judge how he did. in the days remaining until the general election (I guess that gives him another 500 or 600 days in office, given that Westminster currently thinks he will call an election in the fall of 2024) .

Because – and even his allies will admit – it’s been a bumpy start for the Prime Minister and is likely, according to one senior minister, to be bumpy for a few more months.

‘Narrow road’ to victory

On the plus side, Sunak’s allies argue that he was trying to stabilize the economy and slow rate hikes, helping to slow the rise in mortgages and government debt repayments.

“What we’ve been trying to do is stabilize the economy and get it back on track,” said a ministerial ally. “Now we must focus on providing these priority year.”

Halve inflation, reduce government debt, grow the economy, cut waiting lists and stop small boats – this is Sunak’s pledge card to 2024.

And if he can win it all, his supporters will see a “very narrow path” to winning the next general election.

But look at the first 100 days and the scale weighs a lot more for what’s wrong than what’s going right.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street, London, to attend the Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament.  Date taken: Wednesday, February 1, 2023.

This is an unresolved prime minister the worst strikes in the UK since the 1980s. Children are out of school, nurses and ambulance crews are on the roads, trains are not running, troops are deployed to police our border.

Then came the very real crisis in the NHS, with record ambulance delays and A&E waiting times testing the patience of an increasingly weary public.

All of which is the basis for the opposition to scream that Britain has fallen and it is time for a change of government.

Then there were the scandals surrounding his cabinet that forced Mr Sunak to defend no less than four of his ministers in the 11 prime ministerial questions he has faced so far.

yes Suella Bravermanwho broke the ministerial rule and resigned from the Truss administration only to be reinstated by the new Prime Minister a few days later (among rumors that he made a deal with the party’s right to reinstall her in exchange for leadership votes); Gavin Williamsonwho resigned from the cabinet because of allegations of bullying; Nadhim Zahawi, was fired for conduct related to a tax dispute while still a cabinet minister; and he is currently causing a fever for his deputy Dominic Raabwho was the subject of eight separate bullying complaints.

It is not only deeply irritating to the prime minister but also threatening, with Mr Sunak tainted by the Tory stain.


“It’s very dangerous,” a senior minister and ally remarked to me the other day on the Zahawi and Raab affairs.

“Maybe it’s gone too far,” they added, thinking the reputational damage was too deep to recover.

The opinion in Westminster is that Mr Raab’s position is very precarious.

“If you have three permanent secretaries [top civil servants] all give evidence, you have to say it’s not good for Mr. Raab.”

And that’s not good for Mr. Sunak either.

First, Mr Raab is his close confidant and an important political ally he relies on, so severing ties would be very difficult and painful for the prime minister’s internal workings.

Monday, as I reported this weekThe Raab scandal drew closer and closer to the Prime Minister, with claims that Mr Sunak to be spoke about concerns about “unacceptable behavior” before bringing him into the cabinet.

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Oliver Dowden has told Sky’s Sophy Ridge the prime minister is ‘not aware of any formal complaints’ against Dominic Raab prior to appointing him to the cabinet

There are some who would rather let Mr. Raab lay his head on his sword than prolong the pain of his master.

But all indications are that Mr. Sunak himself will have to make this call once the independent investigation of Adam Tolley KC is over.

And frustration is spreading through the polls.

At the end of November 2022, 41% of the public thought Mr. Sunak was doing very badly, compared with 31% who said he was doing well.

Two months later, at the end of January, 56% think the prime minister is doing very badly, compared with 26% who think he is doing very well, according to YouGov.

Elections appear

So this is a prime minister who is still in office, but the polls are going in the wrong direction, which means the pressure will only increase.

Any government hopes that gap will close as the election draws closer and the Prime Minister’s team is counting on falling inflation and economic recovery to help shift sentiment.

What the Conservative MPs need is something positive to sell on their doorstep, and Mr Sunak isn’t providing them with any of that right now, said a Treasury figure.

What many MPs want is a tax cut as soon as possible, but that’s not something they can get in the March budget.

For the Prime Minister, picking up the pieces of the Truss government’s economic downturn means his first 100 days as prime minister will always be difficult.

And Mr. Sunak is sure to play the game for as long as he can – a Treasury source told me the fall 2024 election is highly likely as “people won’t feel better” by spring of that year.

At least he can rest assured that he has survived, but the big unknown – and for many, the real doubt – is whether he will be able to thrive.


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