New British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, replacing Liz Truss, who served the shortest term as head of government in UK history, is unlikely to last long in the job himself in the face of the United Kingdom’s stiff economic and health challenges, experts told Sputnik.
Sunak became the first Asian Indian, Hindu and son of an immigrant in UK history to become prime minister this week when his two rivals, House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt and former prime minister Boris Johnson, both withdrew from the race.
On Tuesday, Sunak began appointing his cabinet, retaining the previous government’s defense and foreign secretaries along with the leader of the House of Commons, among other posts. However, at least ten members of the previous UK government headed by Truss resigned shortly after Sunak took office.
Sunak inherits a government that saw the greatest slump in value in the history of the pound sterling currency, which came after the Truss government’s drastic tax cuts. Truss resigned her post within less than two months.
Historian and political commentator Dan Lazare warned that Sunak too was unlikely to long endure in office because of the problems he faced.
“Interest rates are rising, the global economy is slowing, and debt to GDP in the UK is already an uncomfortable 85%. The economic climate is so brutal that just about every government in the industrial world is having trouble staying on its feet,” he said. “Sunak will enter Number 10, Downing Street but will eventually agree to elections and thus cede power to Sir Keir Starmer [leader of the UK’s opposition Labor Party].”
However, then Starmer would fail in his turn and be succeeded by a hardline, genuinely quasi-fascist figure, Lazare projected.
“Unable to impose austerity to the degree demanded by the ruling class due to his ties to the unions, Labor will eventually give way to a classic hard-right man on horseback who will show how to make the working class bleed,” he said. “British liberalism, the force that has remade the world over and over again since 1689, will be a spent force.”
UK PROBLEMS RUN DEEP
Economic analyst and former Hedge Fund Manager Charles Ortel said UK’s economic problems went much deeper than Truss.
“The UK, in my opinion, is much more wedded to the notion that government boffins [experts] should be intimately involved in attempting to guide economic growth. Now out of the EU, the UK needs to decide whether it will credibly and for the long term seek to attract capital and industry, or whether it will return to pre-Thatcher days, as I fear may happen,” he said.
Until a Conservative team emerged that was both sensible and charismatic, the Thatcher tradition of reducing government, preventing its debt from growing and encouraging private enterprise was likely to remain discredited, Ortel cautioned.
“The brand is badly tarnished. Bond vigilantes are always hungry to demolish governments that believe they can ignore economic realities. Even after a diet, the UK public sector remains bloated and ineffective,” he said.
The notion that the UK could run short-term deficits without changing the bargain offered by all levels of government was a nonstarter that financial sharks understood and acted upon, Ortel warned.
“Had the UK taken a page from Ireland’s book and worked since the 1980s to craft an hospitable and reliable home for foreign capital, to promote private sector employment and to trim reliance on the manifestly unproductive public sector – local, county, national units combined – then the nation might have cause for hope,” he said. “I expect a return back to the militant, anti-capitalist left and much more pain ahead for a nation that once was America’s great and most important modern ally.”
Columnist for The London Independent and European affairs analyst Mary Dejevsky said inefficient interests were so well- entrenched in the UK that the kind of radical economic reform the country really needed was probably impossible to implement.
Even Truss, although “basically useless,” had quickly run up against “an establishment and Western consensus – from the UK Treasury to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the cognoscenti in London think tanks, academia and politics that objected to what she wanted to do and had their own interests – and mega mortgages – to protect,” she said.
Canadian historian, political commentator and Rising Tide Foundation Vice President Matt Ehret pointed out that Sunak would not only have to clean up the mess that Truss left behind her but that he remained locked into the hostile UK policies against Russia over Ukraine he had long supported as a loyal member of the government of previous prime minister Boris Johnson.
“The British people are now suffering Ukraine propaganda exhaustion syndrome and are now looking down the throat of the first of many cold dark winters with no affordable energy, and a mounting crisis of bankruptcies due to the economic hell of scarcity imposed onto them since their Conservative governments made clear that the British citizens must be sacrificed on some geopolitical altar in order to supposedly hurt Russia,” he said.