Star comment: Storm clouds gathering whoever is PM

We are all in in for a difficult few years.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss

While the final two in the Conservative leadership race celebrate their opportunity to chase the keys to 10 Downing Street, storm clouds are gathering. The outlook for the UK suggests a very real prospect of recession.

Ideas about growth and tax cuts dominate the domestic agenda, though we should not be under any illusions about the size of the task before us. Having incurred extraordinary debts as we weathered the pandemic and having seen energy prices and inflation spike, we face a long, hard road.

The nation is enjoying the summer, as we are freed from the shackles of lockdowns and restrictions and as pleasant weather gives us inexpensive joy. Yet our happiness may be short-lived as we face up to rising interest rates, high inflation, low growth or recession and worse.

Businesses will face a tough time as they fight to survive, workers will face job uncertainty as employers seek better productivity but are unwilling or unable to provide wage rises. Our spending power will continue to fall. We are in for a difficult few years, as mortgages and rents rise and as bills also grow.

We all need to reassess our finances, dropping unnecessary subscriptions, cutting back on treats and making sensible choices about household expenditure. Changing our shopping habits and rewarding the supermarkets that offer cut-price deals, insulating our homes now to cut down on bills in winter and making other day-to-day savings should become the norm. Above all, we should all be looking out for each other, especially those who are vulnerable, to ensure those who are struggling can be directed to the help that they need.

She can deny it all she likes, but Liz Truss has definitely been attempting to take on the characteristics of Margaret Thatcher.

It is a perilous strategy – and strategy is the right word because someone at some point has sat down with Ms Truss and told her to do it. She has clearly been advised to lower her tone, wear bows on her blouse, just as Mrs T used to do, even sit in a tank for a photo opportunity.

None of this is helpful to Ms Truss, a very able politician who went to a comprehensive school and who now aims to rise to the top job through her hard work and undoubted intellect.

It is also another case of advisors, spin doctors – call them what you will – taking the public for fools. After the years of Blair, we can now spot spin a mile off. And it is a big turn off.

Advice to Liz Truss: Drop the act. Let the public know the real you and sell your ideas. That is the route to Downing Street.

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