What Rishi Sunak Must Do To Avoid The Ditch

What Rishi Sunak Must Do To Avoid The Ditch
Rishi Sunak
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A fortnight ago, the world was treated to some dose of surprise when 42-year-old former hedge fund supremo, Rishi Sunak was announced as Britain’s third Prime Minister in just about two months. There is no gainsaying the fact that Sunak inherited what many people might describe as something close to a disaster. Staying afloat will now be directly hinged on how well he is able to find solutions to the most prominent problems that might be the only things uniting a deeply divided country. He will need to tackle a growing economic crisis sparked by the situation in Ukraine and other issues around the world and find a way of uniting a political party embroiled in crisis.

It is quite expected that Sunak is unfazed by these problems. As expected, he has already pledged his commitment to providing leadership at this critical time as a part of his quest to rebuild trust as far as politics is concerned. As daunting as the challenges are, the truth remains that they are not insurmountable and whether Sunak is going to find answers can only be proven by one man – Sunak.

Being the Prime Minister of the UK is a different shoe than he has ever filled, and Sunak will not escape facing the fate of his last two predecessors if he fails to bring the political infighting bedeviling the country to an end while also carrying out radical reforms on a policy that has scared investors and alarmed international allies. To do this, there are several decisions Sunak must make, even very painful ones and these decisions deserve to be critically considered.

Rishi Sunak
British PM, Rishi Sunak

First, Sunak should aim to fix the mistakes that made the short spell of Liz Truss in Downing Street very chaotic. He will have to direct his focus toward finding ways of cutting public spending in a bid to ensure that the country in a recession is given a lifeline to breathe. Mr. Sunak who is arguably one of the wealthiest men in parliament will surely have to take hard decisions that will help plug very deep holes in the public finances costing an estimated 40 billion pounds ($45 billion). In addition to that, he will need to bring down borrowing costs and possibly develop a 6-month programme to support people to pay their energy bills.

To be clear, Sunak will have to find the best point to strike to bring a balance between spending cuts and tax raises.

It augurs well that Sunak himself has already sent warnings to his colleagues that they face what he has described as an ‘existential crisis’ if they fail to navigate the country through the turbulent times characterised by record energy bills and surging inflation that has pushed many households and businesses to the wall. With debt interest costs on a steady rise and the economic outlook deteriorating, Sunak will need to review all spending, especially on politically sensitive areas which include health, education, pensions, defense, and welfare.

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A wave of strikes over issues bothering on pay and welfare has already pushed telecoms workers, railway staff, garbage collectors, dockworkers, and even lawyers to stage protests and go on strike this year alone. Sunak must do all he can to ensure that this issue is stopped from spreading, and is ultimately brought under control.

It is not going to be easy but with pragmatism and clear intentions, the UK can experience full economic restoration.

Politically, Sunak will be climbing big mountains. With his party’s popularity currently on a freefall across the country, he will have growing calls for an election to contend with if he ever attempts to move too far away from the policy manifesto that got ex-leader Boris Johnson elected by the Conservative Party in 2019. Over the last eighteen months, the Conservative party has looked almost ungovernable, and Sunak must understand that he has many colleagues who openly loathe him, wrongly blaming him for Johnson’s downfall. This situation could be tricky, but Sunak must find ways of navigating it unscathed and unbruised. In this regard, it is a hopeful situation as Sunak is already promising to put the needs of the public above politics. He must keep to this promise in recognition of the increasing anger at Britain’s elite class and the ideological battles that raged on ever since the historic vote to leave the EU in 2016.

Sunak who is a former Goldman Sachs analyst must be very smart and sensitive to navigate the murky waters. Stabilising the ship in troubled waters must be paramount even though some analysts believe he must restore sanity first. The UK has seen lots of turmoil lately and this is surely not the way to go. He might have been vindicated in his earlier analysis of Liz Truss’s economic strategy, but the time for talks is long gone now, he must walk the talk or get the boot like his predecessors. The UK public has become largely impatient over the past decade even as voters are becoming increasingly angry over the antics at Westminster. Sunak must understand this clearly and act accordingly.

It is true that he became Prime Minster without facing the British public. However, he will be making a mistake if he chooses not to make them the focal point of his plans. Sunak must restore order, and only this will determine how long he spends in office. Alas, the challenges are dire, but not insurmountable.

Africa Digital News, New York

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