Repair

Truss damage will take a long time to repair – Lorna Slater

Lorna Slater is the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity. Photo: PA

Its impact will be felt every time we pay more in stores, and by anyone who has seen their mortgage rates skyrocket.

Now, after six disastrous weeks, it looks like she will be replaced by the man she saw during her leadership campaign.

Rishi Sunak and his followers describe him as a safe, moderate and reliable pair of hands. It is unlikely to inflict the kind of savage and radical economic experiment that Liz Truss did in her disastrous mini-budget. But that doesn’t mean it delivers the positive change we need.

Although he eventually withdrew his support for Boris Johnson when partygate and other scandals got too big, he stood by him through almost every terrible decision that characterized his Premiership.

This included Brexit, which Sunak supported and helped bring about. The deal he and Johnson worked on has cost jobs, raised prices, taken away the right to free travel and ensured a tougher environment for people who move here.

When it comes to the biggest issue facing us, climate change, he showed the same environmental contempt as Liz Truss.

He used his leadership campaign to push for a fresh round of new North Sea oil and gas licenses and backed fracking.

As energy bills rose across the country, his approach was one of inaction. By the time he left the Treasury, Sunak had introduced some of the weakest support measures of any comparable European economy.

He eventually introduced what was billed as a windfall tax on fossil fuel giants. But even that left a lot to be desired.

The level of taxation itself was far too low, especially compared to the eye-popping profits that were being published. But, beyond that, it offered a discounted incentive for companies that increased oil and gas drilling.

The same disregard for consequences was evident in his approach to benefits. During the COVID pandemic, he opted to cut Universal Credit by £1,000 a year, a move the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says would push 200,000 people into poverty.

A telling point will be who he appoints as his chancellor. Jeremy Hunt has previously made it clear that his tenure will mean more cuts, telling the BBC that “nothing will be ruled out” when it comes to budgets.

It will be the most vulnerable who will pay the price.

In August, the New Statesman obtained a video of Sunak telling an audience of conservative supporters in Tunbridge Wells that as Chancellor he had inherited funding formulas that “pushed all funding to deprived urban areas” and that he had “begun the work of dismantling this.”

Is this really the future we want?

For those of us in Scotland, this will be the fifth Conservative Prime Minister in 12 years that we did not vote for and cannot impeach.

Whether it’s David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, the problem isn’t just the individuals, it’s the system that allows their mismanagement to continue without any sort of warrant.

Lorna Slater is MSP of Lothian Green and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity