‘Rishi Sunak is poised to intensify the detrimental impact on Britain – as a means of retaliating against Labour’

As tensions rise in the Middle East, politicians worldwide are seeking opportunities to benefit from it while also seeking ways to avoid getting involved.

That’s politics for you. It’s all about making money, looking innocent, and being at a safe distance if everything goes bang. And as with global diplomacy, so it is at home – with last night’s by-elections presenting the Prime Minister with a similar smorgasbord of risk and opportunity.

Rishi Sunak didn’t just lose two by-elections. And he didn’t just lose to a protest vote. He lost to the official Opposition which wants to form the next government. The Tories haven’t lost to Labour with such a big swing since 1994, and it is still only the second time it’s happened since the end of the Second World War.

It is, in other words, historically-bad, and indicative that not only did his “reset” fall flat, but he’d be lucky to get out of a general election with his arse intact.

Rishi Sunak is about to step up the destruction of Britain - just to spite Keir Starmer
“Oh she didn’t just say that…”
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Conservative Party, despite facing an opponent that has inspired about as many people as a can of spam, is looking at an annihilation so bad that even blue-rinse grandmothers will stay up all night to down shots as Cabinet ministers tumble. Until yesterday, Sunak hoped to save a sizeable rump of MPs with some dog-whistle racism and vicious public sector cuts. This morning, that won’t fly. It can’t even flap its wings.

Today the CCHQ strategists will be tearing their hair out. They’ve tried everything. They can’t be any more racist without marching in jackboots down the Strand. They can’t cut taxes, can’t raise taxes, can’t spend taxes and certainly don’t want to save any taxes just so Labour can spend it next year. Brexit means we’re permanently outgunned on the world stage, and the Daily Wail, while doing very well in a shrinking market, doesn’t have enough readers to get them elected.

Sunak has wheeled out his wife. He has presented himself as an agent of change. He’s slashed and burned HS2, abandoned the north, been arguably better at his job than either of the previous two incumbents, and is still neck-deep in an electoral cesspit.

This is not what he signed up for. A middle class boy from Southampton who married well and was educated abroad, he’s an over-rich, globally-minded twit who thought he could at least stop the party from utter collapse at the ballot box, and skip off to California with a peerage and the chance of steering future policy from afar. Now, he looks likely to be politically radioactive for a decade. He and his wife might EVEN have to pay inheritance tax. Imagine!

Rishi Sunak is about to step up the destruction of Britain - just to spite Keir Starmer
“I’m just a guy, looking at a future family tax bill, wondering how not to pay it.”
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

If he accepts the inevitable defeat, Sunak has just two things to worry about: the risks and the opportunities. How does he make the most of Tory electoral doom, and what’s his exit strategy?

We saw the answer in how he ended the HS2 high-speed rail project. He derailed it, then ensured it could never be restarted by ordering land to be sold back, and the London terminus to be redesigned so it could never accept the trains the line would need. There is only one reason to put a stake in the heart of something after it’s already dead, which is to ensure that it is never resurrected. He did that purely to stop the next PM restarting it.

Sunak doesn’t care about his party. He certainly doesn’t seem too bothered about his country. In a year or so he’ll be in California, lying on a beach while earning 20%. On his way out of the door, all he wants to do is to spite Keir Starmer, to know what the next PM will do and make it more impossible or expensive or politically toxic for him to attempt it. That’s the state the Tory Party is in – unwilling or unable to fix itself, it is now merely capable of ruining others.

Which is why, in the year we have to wait before they are voted out, Sunak and his cohort of no-hopers are going to do all they can to destroy the next Labour government – and with it, Britain.

If that seems like hyperbole, ask yourself what little we know of what Starmer wants or has to do: fix NHS waiting lists, a decade of building projects, a green energy company, national investment schemes, replacing hundreds of school roofs and repairing enough potholes to fill the Albert Hall 10 times over.

Now ask yourself how to stop it happening. Let the NHS stay on strike. Petty planning rule rewrites. Run down existing power stations that will need replacing first. Increase the national debt, stop refurbishing public buildings, cut roads funding even further.

It won’t have escaped you that the Tories are doing all six of those things already. The power stations are shagged, the NHS winter crisis lasts all year, and the only people making money out of potholes are axle manufacturers. Now picture those things getting worse, and not just as a consequence of inadvertent decisions by distant ministers, but by intent of a man who only goes to the shops for a photoshoot. Without roads, roofs, power or health, there’s nothing of us left.

Threatened by blackouts for years, now we’ll get them. Distraught at NHS failures, now you’ll rage at them. Tired of avoiding potholes, now you’ll be lucky to see roadworks. He can start that process now, and Starmer could overturn those decisions on day one, but it will take years to reverse. It will taint the next government, the Tories will present it as broken promises, and they’ll be hoping you ping them back into power the next time around.

And the trouble with that is the Tories won’t have had long enough in exile. They won’t have reconsidered, regrouped, or rebuilt. There’ll be no renaissance; just the same old wishful thinking and the cruelty of assumed power. And we’ll be right back here again.

Sunak is a politician. He can see what to exploit, and plot his escape. That won’t change. But what can and must is the public’s willingness to watch it happen, and the chance we will give Starmer to repair the damage. If more is broken, it takes longer to clean up – maybe 10 years to even see a reversal, and maybe Labour out of office before we can all see the benefits.

Just remember, if that’s what happens, who made the mess, and why.