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Tory politics

Stop blaming Rishi for Boris’s mistakes

Sunak and Johnson in 2021. Dan Kitwood/WPA Pool/Getty

Let me advance a suggestion that “might seem shocking” in some Tory circles, says Daniel Hannan in The Sunday Telegraph: Rishi Sunak is a “conventional Conservative, a Thatcherite, even”. Many seem to think the PM is “wet and woke”, a “managerialist” presiding over a leftward lurch in our economy and institutions. But that’s totally unfair. Much of what Sunak is blamed for is really the fault of his predecessor. It was Boris Johnson who was always “obsessed with throwing public money at things”: he pledged billions to reach net-zero, refused to cancel HS2, and hiked National Insurance to fund yet more NHS spending. “Why am I taking flak for him over Partygate,” asked one previously loyal Tory MP at the time, “when he is governing like Gordon Brown?”

The reason Sunak, a man who wrote “anti-EU articles while still at school”, is written off as a leftwing remainer is that we “live in an age where appearances trump ideas”. Johnson has a “demotic appeal” based on his “capaciousness of character”; Sunak sounds like the CEO of a large multinational. So it doesn’t matter that the PM spends much of his time trying to undo the shoddy work of his predecessors, on everything from the Windsor Framework to the culture wars. Anything he does to stop Britain hurtling left – fighting the courts to curtail illegal migration, cracking down on loopy trans-orthodoxy in schools, refusing demands for public sector wage increases – is simply ignored. Well, his detractors should wait until Keir Starmer takes over. Only then will they realise that they “had a conservative in No 10 all along”.