On reaching 100 days in 10 Downing Street this week, Rishi Sunak will double the duration of Liz Truss’s brutally short term as British prime minister.
On Wednesday, the day before his mini-anniversary, up to half a million workers will escalate a rolling series of strikes to shut down schools, railways and other public sectors.
Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer has been portraying the wealthy premier as “weak” and out of touch, as both parties gear up for an election likely next year.
“Is he starting to wonder if this job is just too big for him?” he told the diminutive Sunak in parliament last Wednesday.
The Labour leader was merciless as he ran the rule over Britain’s state of permacrisis since Brexit and the COVID pandemic, and “sleaze” among the Conservatives.
Ambulance drivers have also been striking, joining nurses on their first-ever walkout. But Sunak is adamant that unions’ pay demands will only fuel the decades-high inflation.
“Being an effective manager of public money and public services is not a sin,” senior minister Michael Gove said, rejecting criticism that Sunak is an uninspiring leader after Boris Johnson, who preceded Truss.
“It is the case that first of all we have to bring the stability — and we have — and now we have set out areas where we are performing,” he told Sky News on Sunday.
– ‘Moral bankruptcy’ –
Sunak faces a mountainous challenge as he bids to emulate Conservative leader John Major’s surprise win over Labour in 1992.
Outside Number 10 in October, he promised “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” — in pointed contrast to his two predecessors.
But Sunak has been forced on the defensive by the tax affairs of the Conservative chairman Nadhim Zahawi, who until this weekend sat in the cabinet.
Starmer on Saturday accused Sunak’s Tories of “moral bankruptcy”, as less well-off voters are forced this winter to choose between eating and heating.