Allies and Interests

James Meadway in Sidecar:

The bonfire of so many illusions. Rishi Sunak, the UK Chancellor, star of his own soft-focus Instagram series, known as ‘Dishy Rishi’ during the country’s strange first summer of Covid, when 12 million found themselves on the government payroll and a decade of debt-reduction paranoia was suspended overnight; Sunak, former hedge funder, married to the daughter of India’s sixth richest tech billionaire, wearer of sliders (£95), brand-rep for luxury coffee mugs (£180), lover of ‘fiction’ (‘all my favourite books are fiction’), famously depicted by the BBC sporting a Superman costume; a man whose ascent from backbench MP to second highest office in the land was as rapid as it was mysteriously scandal-free – a strange state of affairs in a government where financial impropriety appears to be a condition of entry; Sunak, whose Spring Statement to address Britain’s cost-of-living crisis was delivered on Wednesday, declared that ‘this day is an achievement we can all celebrate’, even as his own statisticians warned of the greatest decline in living standards since records began; whose cunning wheeze for income tax cuts in 2024 and fuel duty cuts ‘for the first time in 16 years’ was intended to elicit fawning front pages, but proved that even the supine British media have their limits, with critical write-ups on his mini-budget in the Times, FT, SunDaily Express and Daily Mail.

More here.