Sunday, October 17

Never mind Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak is pivotal in UK’s Covid mess | Rishi Sunak

Such would flatter would have embarrassed the official announcer of a small dictatorship. In late July, during the coronavirus interregnum and after 40,000 British deaths, the BBC cast Rishi Sunak as Superman in a video detailing his “plan to save the UK economy.” After a considerable uproar, the announcer removed the cartoon “For editorial reasons,” saying “the illustrations got the wrong grade.”

But it is indisputable that after “Dishy Rishi” was led out of obscurity by the now-fallen Dominic Cummings, large portions of the commentator and the general electorate became clingy on the chancellor. In homage to his signature “go out to eat to help” scheme, restaurants named meals after him, and newspaper front pages praised him as “DR FEELGOOD TO THE RESCUE.” In mid-April, according to a YouGov poll, more than half of the country believed they were doing a good job (only 9% thought they were doing a bad job).

But many ministers were responsible for the worst British national crisis since World War II, and Sunak was certainly one of them. “Eating out to help”, described as “ingenious” by the Daily Mail, is the most obvious of his failures. According to a University of Warwick study published two months agoWhile the plan cost around £ 500 million, the economic effects were short-lived and up to 17% of new Covid-19 clusters could be attributed to it. Who could have imagined that encouraging large numbers of people to gather together in enclosed spaces would provide a fertile environment for the spread of an extremely infectious virus?

The Conservatives may have achieved a landslide victory by breaking down Labor’s “red wall,” but Sunak, who, thanks to his marriage, has a larger family fortune than the queen, shows no more understanding of the plight of average voters. than a traditional conservative. . This weekend he called home workers who “accumulated savings” to go on a spending spree when the pandemic ends. If the chancellor thought that household spending was key to Britain’s economic recovery (which is understandable, given that the destruction of industry has made consumer spending the engine of its economy), then it wouldn’t be. drastically cutting real wages in the key public sector. workers who applauded from the steps of No. 11.

Meanwhile, Sunak’s failure to support raising the UK’s statutory sick pay – which is among the worst in Europe – has made it economically impossible for many to isolate themselves, which has undoubtedly contributed to the spread of the virus. It gets worse: The blockade suddenly imposed on large swaths of England under Level 4 restrictions so far has not been accompanied by the emergency support measures needed to prevent further economic damage.

There is an even more serious argument against a chancellor who has presided over one of the worst peacetime recessions of any major economy. Britain blocked too late and reopened its economy with a flawed test-and-trace system that, due to the ideological predispositions of the government, was turned over to chaotic private contractors. Any future public inquiry worthwhile would thoroughly investigate why Britain, despite receiving advance warning of the severity of the virus from Italy and Spain, ended up being one of the worst affected nations on Earth and with economic fallout. Similary.

But we do not need to wait for a public investigation, especially if it is a cover-up of the establishment, to attribute responsibility to the politicians who fought most vigorously against the introduction of the necessary measures to contain the virus. There is a fashion to blame Boris Johnson’s inability to make tough decisions for not keeping Covid in check due to his desire to please. But conservative politicians, including Sunak, who resisted Covid’s measures may have been a bigger factor in the government’s inept response to the pandemic.

According to excellent research reports from the sunday times, Sunak led the forces within the cabinet that opposed firm action. When scientists recommended a switch lockout in mid-September, Johnson was reluctant to endorse them, but Sunak resisted on financial grounds and invited a minority group of scientists who are skeptical about the locks to talk about the number 10, which is rather, like drawing on the evidence from “experts” who challenge the scientific consensus on the climate emergency to advise on environmental policy. As a result of the government’s delay, infections skyrocketed, deaths spiked, and an even more punitive lockdown had to be imposed in November, albeit too late to bring coronavirus rates close to what is needed to suppress the virus.

Sunak remains popular, but his approval ratings are based on his association with a job retention scheme that was less generous than those of other European nations, and his approachable demeanor, helped by a penchant for wearing hoodies on Instagram, which makes him look different from your average conservative politician. Senior Labor figures believe that, if he were to take over as prime minister, he would pose a different electoral challenge than the incumbent’s posed: less likely to break through the “red wall,” but more likely to draw middle-class liberals into the seats. . like Putney and Canterbury (despite their impeccable Brexit credentials).

But in identifying the men responsible for this national calamity, Sunak ranks second after the prime minister himself. More than incompetence, it was an ideological commitment to protecting private economic interests that drove Britain to the precipice. That’s why the shutdown was delayed, workers were encouraged to return to offices prematurely, and testing and tracing was outsourced to companies like Serco. The main of these ideologues was Sunak. As the death toll rises and the economic devastation he shares responsibility for, how wicked it is that his ill-gotten reputation remains intact.

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