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The Chancellor Rishi Sunak visits GSK in Stevenage
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Rishi has left the band

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The band has broken up. Akin to when Robbie abandoned Take That, our rockstar Chancellor has eventually quit the boyband and gone solo.

7th Jul 2022
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After losing faith in the Prime Minister’s leadership following the Chris Pincher scandal, Rishi Sunak took the moral high ground and resigned from his post as Chancellor to spend more time with his non-dom wife

He joined a number of other ministers in writing a long-winded resignation letter to Boris Johnson that could have more easily been summed up as: “It’s not me, it’s you. Sayanora.”

And it was going so well. Sunak was the pandemic pin-up. He stood shoulder to shoulder with the Prime Minister during the Covid crisis. Each time he appeared at the nightly Downing Street briefings, his gifts of bounce back loans (BBL), furlough cash and self-employed income support scheme grants were greeted with the same hysteria as The Beatles singing I saw her standing there at The Cavern Club. Although instead of screams and fainting fans, Sunak’s announcements were met with sighs of despair from accountants fielding calls from clients and the noise of new BBL-funded Lamborghinis driving off forecourts. 

Fundamental differences

So what went wrong? The telling phrase in Sunak’s resignation letter was: “It has been clear to me that our approaches are fundamentally too different.” Indeed, Sunak and Boris Johnson were due to give a joint speech on the economy next week, but the Prime Minister’s push for tax cuts to save his political backside must have fallen out of step with the former Chancellor’s grave assessment of the economy. 

The “fundamental difference” was simple; Sunak had a habit of increasing taxes while calling them tax cuts, while Johnson wanted to actually cut taxes… or borrow more money… or do anything really to distract from the latest Downing Street scandal. 

Sunak revealed the news in a more low-key fashion than his previous announcements. There was no professional photographer lurking around the corner to take a brooding snap of the former Chancellor signing the letter. No photo of Sunak taking a contemplative sip of Coca-Cola. And not even a picture of him throwing his red Budget briefcase into the Thames and setting fire to his tax plan – including all the blank pages. 

Rishi’s replacement

It didn’t take long for Boris Johnson to refresh the boyband. He installed someone more suited to the current cost of living crisis. Who else could understand the rising energy costs more than someone who had to claim expenses to heat his horse stables?

Yes, Nadhim Zahawi is a safe pair of hands and after overseeing the vaccine rollout, the Prime Minister will be looking to him to inject some energy into the UK’s finances. Namely, tax cuts. Zahawi had only been in the post long enough to have breakfast before doing the media rounds to tease that “nothing is off the table” in terms of tax cuts (not his resignation). Rumours are already swirling that there could even be a cut before summer recess in two weeks – that’s if Boris Johnson stays as Prime Minister that long. 

So what could Zahawi cut first? Setting out his ambition for the UK to be “one of the most competitive countries in the world for investment”, he has already hinted at reviewing corporation tax, which could see the planned rise to 25% shelved. Or could Zahawi call an emergency Budget before recess? After all, revenge is a dish best served as a 60-minute fiscal announcement that you never got to deliver when you were Chancellor, Sajid Javid (na na na na na). But Zahawi might want to hold off from inviting the decorators round to Number 11 or getting on a first-name basis with the professional photographer.

[7 JULY UPDATE: Boris Johnson resigned as Prime Minister today and although Zahawi remains in post, any planned economic updates or tax cuts have been put on hold until a new leader is in post. Zahawi's role as Chancellor is expected to be temporary, but if Westminster gossup is to believed, it's not the wallpaper in Number 11 that he wants to change - where he wants to go, the wallpaper is a little more fresh.]

Get back, Rishi

After auditioning for the PM job for the past two years, Sunak isn’t going to want to give up the commute to the House of Commons just yet. Could it be time for “Dishy” Rishi’s solo career?

After being a background dancer, Sunak may now be biding his time before trying out his own material and making a challenge for the Conservative Party leadership. 

Johnson’s days in Number 10 are numbered and could already be over by the time you finish this column. All it would take is a snake-hipped former Chancellor to come along and remind the taxpayers that he once gave them half-price burgers on Monday to Wednesday to stick the steak knife in the PM. When it comes to launching your solo career, it’s good to have those greatest hits to fall back on when news of looming tax rises are met with stunned silence. 

Or perhaps Sunak may try to get the band back together. Could there be a rooftop reunion with his fellow former Chancellor Sajid Javid? All together now: “Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged. Get back, Rishi.” 

Remember, Robbie eventually returned back to Take That, Stevie Nicks rejoined Fleetwood Mac and Sunak could be tempted back to Number 11 under a different leader. 

But if all else fails, Sunak can always use all the expertise he learned as Chancellor and take up a lucrative career as an Instagram influencer or just return to the backbenches and reminisce to whoever will listen about his glory years dishing out furlough cash and how people once called him Dishy Rishi.

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By Paul Crowley
07th Jul 2022 16:17

Good riddance
Claimed that resignation not connected to the earlier resignation of 5 minutes ago. Integrity in tatters. Resigns on twitterbook.
The cabal deserves him, then after next election fiasco will look to change the 1922 rules to dispose of him for ever
Still no worries, Mr and Mrs are lined up with green card loyalty and tax payments to the USA, or possibly Mrs will need his help when she returns to look after ailing parents

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