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Westminster

The next PM will be a steward, not a star

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is seen as a safe pair of hands. Dan Kitwood/WPA Pool/Getty

It’s obvious what kind of politician will replace Boris Johnson in No 10, says Clare Foges in The Times: a safe pair of hands. Over the past four decades our leaders have alternated neatly between “stars and stewards”. The former are “box office” stuff, adored and loathed in equal measure; the latter are “sober characters” who err on the side of caution. Thatcher, “the quintessential political star”, was replaced by the stolid John Major. Then it was “glitzy centrist messiah” Tony Blair, who eventually made way for the dour Gordon Brown. The “pendulum swung again” to bring in David Cameron – not a proper star, but a man with a “kingly air” – before the “dreariness” of Theresa May. Then it was Boris, “the political equivalent of a glug of champagne”.

Each type becomes “more attractive when you have had years of the other”. So, after the Johnson “rollercoaster”, voters are craving a steward. That probably rules out Michael Gove, who has the “political star’s zeal for big, nation-transforming ideas”, and Thatcher wannabe Liz Truss. But it augurs well for Rishi Sunak. Diligent and technocratic, the Chancellor isn’t someone you’d choose to have a pint with – but you would seek his advice “on the best kind of mortgage protection insurance”. As the “ultimate steward”, he’s the obvious choice to replace his boss.

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