Express & Star

Andy Richardson: How not to start off in job of Prime Minister

It’s difficult to conceive of circumstances where Liz Truss could have made a worse start to her premiership.

In charge – but Tory MPs are restless

She and Kami-Kwasi Kwarteng have spaffed tens of billions up the wall on the worst budget in living memory. Robbing the poor to give to the rich was a trick that even the Sheriff of Nottingham didn’t get away with. Nor, of course, did Kwasi and Liz – though they gave it their best shot.

The result of their financial disaster is likely to be 15 per cent cuts across the board as public services stripped to the bone during a decade or more of austerity are cut back even further. Soon, there’ll be nothing but pot-holed-roads. There are fears around energy as we head towards winter and Insta Truss has shown herself to be remarkably adept at all the wrong things.

When it comes to boxing herself in on the wrong side of an argument, she’s world-class – as good as Boris was at boosterism and misleading us. Rishi Sunak must be looking on thinking: ‘Told you so.’ As, indeed, are tens of millions of people who didn’t vote for Liz or give her a mandate.

Following a disastrous Tory Party conference, in which dodgy MPs were implicated in sex scandals – I know, so what’s new – and rival factions tore into one another like chicken into a bowl of corn, Truss is already Dead Man Walking.

Her MPs didn’t want her, the country didn’t want her and from the highs of the 2019 election victory, the Tories are now heading towards doom.

It’s not that the country warms to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Focus groups show they don’t. It’s just that he’s now viewed as the least bad of a bad bunch, which is pretty much the way British politics runs.

While unemployment is low, pay pressures remain. Wages have effectively gone done as prices have spiralled – and that’s before the new super-inflated fuel bills land.

We’re no nearer to solving the slew of industrial disputes that have been ongoing since before the Tory Leadership contest and with Liz Truss’s inability to bring people together and find common ground, we needn’t expect a change any time soon.

The era of cheap mortgages is over, too, following the Truss-Kwarteng budget.

There’s disharmony around the Cabinet table and it seems that the Government will limp on, unloved and untrusted, until Sir Keir replaces Liz at the next election, either with a small majority or as the head of a coalition government.

Liz, of course, blames it all on Vlad the Bad in the Kremlin. Yet Europe and America are not warning of financial instability in the way that the UK is.

Liz’s rush for growth is causing the opposite as the financial system faces a crisis of the Government’s making that will be paid for by cutting benefits. As Johnny Rotten once said: Every get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

Here’s the rub. Liz wants to cut taxes, which is a perfectly valid aim.

But those tax-cutting plans currently risk overstretching the public finances and sending us into meltdown.

It’s the wrong time and the wrong place for policies that have no relevance following the financial downturn caused by the horrors of Covid and the energy price spike caused by Putin. Not that Liz cares.

People are concerned that pensions are safe, they’re worried that they’re not going to be able to afford to heat their homes, they’re fearful they won’t be able to afford their mortgages and rents and they’re worried their wages are effectively falling at a time when the price of just about everything is rising.

The Government’s response is to reward the rich and wait for the drip-down effect. Fun times – if you’re a multi-millionaire. Not so much fun for everyone else.

Nurses, meanwhile – the people we all clapped from the doorstep when they saved thousands of lives while risking their own – can forget about a decent pay rise. They’ve been offered three per cent at a time when inflation is around 10 per cent – which means a seven per cent cut.

The Royal College of Nursing says nurses will get an extra 72p per week – which will buy them two-thirds of a tin of Heinz Baked Beans.

The Government, it’s all heart.