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Rishi Sunak is all but sunk – and out of time to turn around the sinking Tories

From inflation to debt, the prime minister has spent the year talking up his government’s achievements – but it has had little impact on opinion polls. Labour retains a huge lead over the Tories and, with an election in sight, time is slipping away fast for Rishi Sunak, says Andrew Grice

Wednesday 27 December 2023 13:36 GMT
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The prime minister has tried painting a positive picture of his time in No 10 – but does it stand up to scrutiny?
The prime minister has tried painting a positive picture of his time in No 10 – but does it stand up to scrutiny? (PA Wire)

“It’s been an incredibly successful year,” Rishi Sunak said. Unfortunately for him, he was talking about King Charles’s first year as monarch, in the BBC’s behind-the-scenes documentary about the royals broadcast on Boxing Day.

The prime minister, who can only dream of such uncritical media coverage, can’t describe his government’s performance in the same terms. Yet at the cabinet meeting before Christmas, he appeared to mark his own homework and award himself four marks out of five on achieving the pledges he made at the start of this year.

One out of five (inflation has been halved) is more accurate. Government debt is due to fall in five years but the public finances will yo-yo before then and the UK’s statistics watchdog has rebuked Sunak for claiming debt is already falling. His pledge to grow the economy was thrown into doubt when official figures showed it contracted by 0.1 per cent in the third quarter, raising fears of a technical recession.

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