The shake-up seems to confirm the Tories are pursuing an ideologically driven austerity agenda that they hope can be sold as economically necessary
is about both tightening his grip on power and putting more departments on the Treasury list for re-education. By splitting up the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which had
Mr Sunak when he was chancellor, the prime minister has decapitated a rival economic policymaker in government. The new Department for Business and Trade will have some clout because its cabinet minister is Kemi Badenoch, a darling of the Tory right. During her bid to become Tory leader, Ms Badenoch
that government intervention lies at the heart of everything that is wrong with the British economy. Giving her a ministry designed to use state power underlines the nature of the political coup taking place.
all in very different ways railed against the economic orthodoxy imposed by the Treasury, tapping into Brexiters’ claims it was behind “project fear”. What previous leaders were upending was the legacy of George Osborne, the former chancellor who made austerity economics the organising principle of Tory politics. Mr Sunak’s elevation to Downing Street has revived
. What his reorganisation also represents is the restoration of banking perspectives in government. Ms Badenoch, an ex-banker, and Lucy Frazer, a former
put in charge of a new slimmed-down culture department, represent that trend.
The former leader’s comeback is directed not at the public, but her party: to force it back toward the low-tax radicalism it tried to abandon
“You’ve set the cat among the pigeons,” messaged a Tory MP after
dropped on Monday night. The former prime minister’s first spoken intervention since leaving office saw Truss offer little in the way of a mea culpa, and instead set out her plans to carve out a place for herself on the backbenches as a committed tax-cutter. “Obviously I’ve got more time available now to think about these things and make the argument and that’s what I want to do,” she said of her post-prime ministerial plans.
Given Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are trying to lower expectations ahead of the spring budget (and the budget after that), it’s exactly the type of intervention the government would rather avoid. The chancellor has repeatedly suggested now is not the time for tax cuts – instead they will only come
. Sunak has frequently said bringing down inflation must come first. He said the
and understood this. The implication? Some in his party are.
Katy Balls is political editor of the Spectator
Both blame us for the breakdown – never themselves – and want to try again, but that just speaks to their massive self-delusion
Liz Truss is now eluded by two major types of growth: economic and personal. The past few days have seen the former prime minister break
with what her allies call a series of “interventions”. The one intervention that doesn’t seem to have happened is the type where they sit you down and give you the hard truths about your behaviour. That treatment oversight has resulted in a spectacle of lavishly preposterous blame-shifting and self-delusion.
, both the previous two prime ministers – Truss and Boris Johnson – are at this game. We live in an era where people who have got all the way to the highest office in the land now hilariously claim structural discrimination against the fact that, after varying amounts of time, they just weren’t good enough. When both of these chancers left office, they had not simply passed their best-before date – they had sailed beyond the use-by date and moved formally into the realms of biohazard. Yet instead of bucking the f up and accepting this, they have turned into the political equivalent of “incels” – involuntarily rejected by the people who determine whether or not you get to be prime minister, and bleating about it in self-reflection-free style on every available forum.
The chancellor’s rhetoric, echoed by the rightwing press, makes his view clear: that being too ill to work is a lifestyle choice
As the government lurches between screw-ups, sleaze and scandals, it is ironic that one of its key policy agendas is based on the premise that the rest of us aren’t working properly. The chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has
as a key issue facing the UK. The number of working-age people either unable or unwilling to take a job has increased by about 630,000 since 2019,
, resulting in a staggering
missing from the job market.
Broadly, Hunt is concerned about two camps: the over-50s who took early retirement during the pandemic, and the increasing number of people who can’t work because of long-term health conditions and disabilities – a state of affairs put down to factors ranging from soaring NHS waiting lists to long Covid.
Frances Ryan is a Guardian columnist