While Rishi Sunak hints at delaying the next general election, countering earlier expectations, criticism grows over the PM’s narrative, including handling PPE contracts, his views on the Rwanda scheme, and underscoring accountability concerns.

R ishi Sunak has given the clearest indication yet that he intends to delay calling the next Westminster general election until the second half of the year, quashing the speculation which had been growing recently that Sunak was poised to call an early election shortly after the budget is announced in March.

There had been speculation that Sunak’s chancellor Jeremy Hunt would unveil a tax-cutting budget which the Tories hoped would allow them to coast to victory on the back of the gratitude of greedy rich people who were prepared to overlook the chaos, havoc and destruction of public services over the past few years. An early election date would also permit the government to go to the polls well before the drubbing which the Tories are expected to receive at the local government elections in England in May.

However, apparently fearing he was about to be bounced into an election date, not of his own choosing, which would leave him as the second shortest-serving Prime Minister in modern times, Sunak told journalists last week that his “working assumption” was to hold a “general election in the second half of this year”. This would suggest an election in autumn this year.

Under the current rules, based on the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022. An election has to be called within five years of the last election, which was on 12 December 2019. Since the election itself takes place about a month after it is formally called, the very latest date that the UK can go to the polls is in January 2025.

On Sunday, Sunak was interviewed on the Laura Kuenssberg Show on BBC1. Instead of hauling him over the coals on absolutely everything and pointing out the Tories’ dismal record of chaos and failure, and their massive waste of public money, she allowed him to spout a self-serving word salad almost unchallenged.

Sunak wants us to believe that we live in a perfect world where everything his government does is a wonderful success, and he had nothing to do with any previous Conservative administration, like that Boris Johnson government he propped up and defended for years and in which he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

This is the Sunak who now, in the wake of the Mone scandal, says that anyone who took advantage of PPE contracts for fraud should be pursued with the full force of the law, but who, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer in that government that he wants us to believe he had nothing at all to do with, relaxed regular due diligence on order to push through VIP COVID contracts for the associates and cronies of senior Conservatives.

As Ben Elton said about Sunak during the panel discussion on the Kuenssberg Show after the host allegedly interviewed the Prime Minister: “He’s as much of a mendacious narcissistic sociopath as his previous boss.” Sunak just lies and no longer cares whether the lies are believable.

Leaked government documents prove that Sunak did not believe that the Rwanda policy would work when it was first mooted in 2022. When this was put to him by Kuenssberg, he replied by claiming that he hasn’t seen the documents and he did not ‘recall’ having doubts about the policy. Does he want us to believe that he can’t remember anything about what he himself believed about a key government policy unless he’s presented with written evidence?

We saw a similar tactic from Sunak during the COVID Inquiry when he claimed not to be able to remember important discussions about government policy during the pandemic, and his WhatsApp messages mysteriously disappeared. During the pandemic, I suffered a massive stroke which resulted in serious brain damage, but my recollection of those months is significantly better than Sunak’s. Prime Ministers typically publish their memoirs after leaving office, Sunak’s memoirs will be a very slim volume filled with pages which are mostly blank. It will be the field spotter’s guide to the snakes of Ireland of political memoirs.

— Rishi Sunak on the Laura Kuenssberg Show, 7 January 2024.

Either the Prime Minister has a worse memory than a person who experienced a serious brain injury, or he’s just telling lies. My money is on the latter. The truth is that having doubts about the insane and unlawful £290m Rwanda scheme, which has removed precisely zero asylum seekers, might be the only bright idea Sunak has ever had in government. Pity he’s now disavowing it because he’s afraid of the baying mob of far-right British nationalist fascists on his back benches.

It is, however, odd that as Chancellor, he questioned the Rwanda scheme, but he didn’t think to question the VIP PPE deals.

Sunak lies and dissembles like this because he knows that the likes of Kuenssberg will allow him to get away with it.

As a result of the inability of the Westminster system or the media to hold them to account, the Conservatives just no longer care. The Government is facing a by-election due to disgraced MP Peter Bone being suspended from Parliament, following allegations of bullying and sexual misconduct. The person that the Tories have chosen to stand as their candidate in that by-election is Bone’s girlfriend, Helen Harrison, who was previously employed on a salary of £45,000 per year as his Parliamentary Assistant. Presumably, the Tories agreed to this in order to prevent Bone from standing as an independent and splitting the vote in what is likely to be a difficult campaign for them.

Talking of mendacious narcissistic sociopaths, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said that Prince Andrew is ‘seeking to make amends’ having settled his sexual abuse lawsuit, and we must ‘learn to be a more open and forgiving society’. Entirely coincidentally, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s boss is Prince Andrew’s brother. However, given that Andrew continues to insist that he did nothing wrong and that he never met Virginia Giuffre, then how exactly can he be ‘making amends’? This must be one of those great theological conundrums up there with the nature of the Holy Trinity.

The Mail on Sunday has reported that disgraced royal Prince Andrew is ‘devastated’ by the revelations contained in the newly released Epstein papers and has “locked himself away in a room and has no idea how to respond.” This will be because even someone as arrogant and dense as Andrew has realised that appearing in a softball interview on the BBC and lying through his teeth won’t cut it this time. Here’s hoping that he never comes out again.

PMP Magazine



Text: This piece was first published in Wee Ginger Dug and re-published in PMP Magazine on 8 January 2024 under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
Cover: Flickr/Number 10. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)
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