How 'dead man walking' Rishi Sunak could defy odds and win election as economy rebounds

So many people have written him off that I wouldn’t be surprised if the first thing he does every morning is check his pulse to make sure he’s still alive. Today, he’s suddenly got a fresh spring in his step amid signs things are finally starting to go his way.

The cost-of-living crisis has cast shadow over Sunak’s entire stint as Tory leader. No PM could have survived with their popularity unscathed. 

Especially one who left such a dismal legacy by his predecessor, “Calamity” Liz Truss, who brought the UK to the brink of meltdown.

Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt spent the first few months clearing up her mess.

They were forced to hike taxes to a 70-year high at the worst possible time, when the economy was sinking and people were already short of cash.

We ranted and raged but they had little choice. Now the worst is over.

When Sunak came to power in October 2022, consumer price inflation peaked at a thumping 11.1 percent.

In April, 18 months later, inflation has plunged to just 2.3 percent. It’s dropped almost fivefold on his watch.

Even better, the Office for Budget Responsibility expects inflation to remain at or below the Bank of England’s two percent target for the next three years.

The UK has escaped its short-lived recession with the economy now going “gangbusters”, growing 0.6 percent in the first three months of the year.

We’re beating EU rivals Germany, France and Italy. Yesterday, the IMF predicted we will outpace every large European economy for the next six years.

Wages are bombing along, up six percent in the last year giving workers inflation-busting pay rises. Hunt’s two National Insurance cuts will further boost spending power.

April’s bumper state pension triple lock increase of 8.5 percent is a boost for pensioners, especially since it comes on the heels of 2023’s 10.1 percent hike.

House prices are climbing, which always helps. They rose 1.8 percent in the year to March, according to today’s Land Registry figures. Of that, 0.7 percent came in the final month.

This could accelerate as mortgage rates start falling. Last week, Barclays, HSBC and TSB all cut rates. That’s welcome news for 1.6million homeowners coming off cheap fixes this year.

Mortgage rates will fall even faster when the Bank of England indicates it is finally ready to cut interest rates.

The UK stock market has woken up too, with the FTSE 100 rebounding 8.59 percent so far in 2024.

That’s particularly good news because investors are forward-looking, second-guessing where the economy will stand in six to nine months time.

Despite that, Sunak has taken a gamble and called a snap summer election.

I’m not the only one who thinks he should have waited until November.

Tomorrow may look brighter but people are still struggling today. Repairing the damage inflicted by the cost-of-living crisis will take time. Prices are still 20 percent higher than three years ago.

Voters still blame the Tories for their financial woes. Labour are still 20 points ahead in the polls.

Now Sunak has until July 4 to convince a sceptical electorate that rather than dead man walking he’s alive and kicking after all.


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