“Rishi Sunak appears to have given up,” says Alice Thomson in The Times. After he met ministers for informal drinks on Monday, one said: “It felt like he’d already checked out, his wheelie was at the door and he was pottering around for his final hours, looking forward to a few foreign sightseeing trips.” Where once the prime minister was tetchy when asked about his wife’s finances, “he now sounds resigned”; when he was asked this week about yet another Tory MP accused of rape, he almost shrugged. Yes, Sunak agreed, these were “very serious” allegations. Now, says a Conservative backbencher, “we call him Sunk”.
At the Tory party conference last month, it felt like he still thought he had a chance to sell himself as the “change candidate”. But the King’s Speech yesterday contained fewer government bills than any parliamentary opening in a decade. There was nothing to suggest a “brighter future”, as Sunak weakly suggested; no plans for the NHS or housebuilding or social care. Nothing on immigration, nothing on nature. It’s as if he doesn’t expect to be around to deal with any of these vital matters. If you want to know where Sunak’s mind is, just look at the AI conference he hosted last week at Bletchley Park. Interviewing Elon Musk, the PM was at his most “relaxed and expansive”. His role model now appears to be deputy-PM-turned-Meta-executive Nick Clegg: get eviscerated in the polls and start again with the West Coast tech bros.