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By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

Sunak on the ropes

Immigration out of control, the NHS in crisis, schools tumbling down, terrorists on the loose, the economy flatlining, snubbed by international partners, and now an unwanted nickname. Can ‘Inaction Man’ Rishi Sunak get a break and turn the fortunes of his party around?

As Wes Streeting, Labours shadow health minister, said at a Downtown in Business event in London this week, Rishi Sunak must have broken quite a number of mirrors when he was a kid.

Every time the prime minister looks to reset, re-launch, or reboot, he is hit with another bad news story.

Over the Summer, his ‘Small Boats Week’ coincided with record numbers of boats crossing the channel being announced, the barge that was housing around twenty refugees being evacuated because of legionnaires disease, and there was still no sign of planes full of those pesky immigrants jetting off to Rwanda.   

His ‘NHS’ week and ‘economy’ week didn’t fare much better.

Still, the parliamentary recess gave him some light relief, and he will have hoped to return to the Commons last week with an opportunity of getting on the front foot.

Those hopes were dashed on day one, with the announcement about crumbling schools – and his personal involvement in that particular crisis. Sunak wasn’t helped by the remarks of the Secretary of State for Education who objected to her media interviewer’s interrogation with some rather colourful, un-parliamentary language.

On reflection, it is hard not to sympathise with Gillian Keegan’s view that had previous incumbents of her current post ‘got off their arses’ then the issue of ceilings potentially falling in on pupil’s heads may have been avoided.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, a terrorist was allowed a few days unauthorised leave, wandering the streets of London after escaping from prison.

This week the PM has suffered more difficulties. The economic data is not positive, the UK appears to have been snubbed and left out of a major international deal agreed at the G20 summit, and Keir Starmer has tagged him with a name that is likely to stick – “Inaction Man”.

I said in this blog a number of times that Boris Johnson was a lucky politician. In the end his luck ran out, but he certainly had his fair share of breaks. Sunak has had no such luck.

When he was elected by his parliamentary colleagues a year ago, they hoped he would be John Major vintage 1992. As the months tick by, its looks increasingly likely that what they have got is John Major vintage 1997.

Downtown in Business