An evergreen rule of politics is it’s simpler to provide cash away than claw it back, and the honeymoon could still turn sour.
There are two ways of informing the Rishi Sunak story of the past 12 months.
The widespread narrative is of a chancellor who was generated to do the prime minister’s bidding however wound up out-performing his employer.
In this tale, Mr Sunak’s competent action to the coronavirus pandemic, together with distinctive policies like “eat out to help out”, made him the darling of the Conservative celebration and popular throughout the country too.
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On paper, none of that can be quibbled with.
There is an alternative variation of how the last year played out though.
This 2nd tale is of a chancellor too excited to open up the economy given restlessly high levels of infections.
It’s of a cabinet minister who informed the nation to “live without worry” when caution was maybe much better encouraged.
And it’s a story that ends with Mr Sunak being pushed into a shrieking U-turn, extending his support plans in the face of a second COVID-19 wave and putting his recommendations to “find out to live with the virus” on ice till the vaccines show up.
As my coworker Sam Coates has actually previously kept in mind, the chancellor got away with this at the time because his “political stock” was high.
That said, some in Westminster have actually explained Mr Sunak has seemed less vocal of late and perhaps more humble in the face of science.
However speaking to MPs (and looking at approval rankings) it’s clear this more downhearted reading of the pandemic has actually not dented the chancellor’s popularity.
” Getting the balance right is always going to be difficult, however the chancellor has supplied a really beneficial innovative tension against the general public health facility,” stated one Conservative backbencher.
This political clout, in a cabinet typically cast as distinctly underwhelming, possibly suggests Mr Sunak remains in the best position to deliver hard truths about the future.
Tory MPs are worried about what’s lurking in his budget box though.
” Next Wednesday is a bigger minute for him than anybody realises – is he the classical liberal, little state, low tax chancellor all of us believe and hope he is?”, stated one of them.
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The response to that might require time to emerge and Mr Sunak could get something of a honeymoon in the coming months as the country is unlocked and financial activity picks up.
But that might show an incorrect dawn by fall when the COVID support schemes are totally withdrawn and the task of levelling public financial resources actually begins to bite.
It’s an evergreen rule of politics that it’s simpler to offer money away than claw it back.
The coming story of Rishi Sunak may have more of an impact on his standing than any of the tales of the last twelve months.