Rishi Sunak must bide his time
The Conservatives could very well lose the next election under Liz Truss in just over a year.
LONDON: Losing the race for British Prime Minister could work in Rishi Sunak’s favour. General elections are scheduled for the end of next year. There is a general disaffection towards the conservative party among the masses. Liz Truss, if she wins as expected, will face a fairly volatile public, who want relief from the huge rise in the cost of living and rising interest rates. People are appalled at the sordidness that has unfolded during Boris Johnson’s tenure. The National Audit Office has revealed that the current government has awarded £10.5bn worth of coronavirus-related contracts without a competitive tender process. Some of the contracts would have cost the taxpayer £800 for each protective suit delivered. At least £2m worth of contracts have been issued to inactive companies. £10billion was spent on unusable personal protective equipment. This amount could have paid for 12 new hospitals.
Boris Johnson plans to appoint many Lords as part of his grace and favors. The House of Lords is an anachronism and an example of the distance that separates the institution from ordinary people. The Lords need urgent reform. It must drastically reduce its workforce. Hereditary peers and lifetime peers are privileges that date back to the last century. A survey by The Sunday Times and Open Democracy has found that a donation of over £3m can get you a seat in the House of Lords. The House of Lords now has 800 members, more than the European Parliament and the second largest chamber in the world after China’s National People’s Congress. The Lords receive £323 a day plus travel expenses just to attend House proceedings. It costs £120m a year to run the House of Lords. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown called for the abolition of the House of Lords.
There are many other glaring examples of sleaze in Britain today. According to Robert Barrington, professor of anti-corruption practices at the University of Essex’s Center for the Study of Corruption: “A system of mutual dependency has been created between donors, politicians, lobby groups and potential employers. which by most standard scans appears to be corrupt. – it is apparently institutionally corrupt while individuals are not personally corrupt.
According to the Independent Parliament’s Standards Committee, over the past five years 17 MPs have claimed more than £1.3million in taxpayer-funded rent, while raising thousands of pounds by letting their properties in the capital . The UK could even be the money laundering capital of the world. US research group Global Financial Integrity estimates that $1.1 trillion a year flows out of poor countries illegally, being stolen from them through tax evasion and intra-corporate money transfers. The Corporate Tax Haven Index published by the Tax Justice Network shows that the three countries that have facilitated this theft the most are the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. All are British territories. Jersey, a British dependency, is also a tax haven. Financial Times journalist Tom Burgis, in his book “Kleptopia”, writes that, wherever it comes from, dirty money goes through London.
The sordid “revolving door” concerns the movement of individuals between public service positions and jobs in the same sector in the private and voluntary sector. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne got a job in the private sector by paying him £600,000 to work two days a month. David Cameron is said to have won £7million for his association with bankrupt financial firm Greensill Capital.
For these reasons and more, the Conservatives could very well lose the next election under Liz Truss in just over a year. Sunak will then be very well placed to lead the Conservative Party. Sunak is very young and he can bide his time. Losing the current contest will set him up very well for a future leadership role. The Indian community, on the other hand, is very proud that Sunak has come this far. Who would have thought that a person of Indian origin would be a candidate for the post of Prime Minister ten years ago? The Indian community from East Africa and India has done extremely well in the UK on all fronts and won the hearts of the British people.
Nitin Mehta is a UK-based commentator.