In his latest column, High Peak MP Robert Largan writes about what challenges the new Prime Minister will face when they are elected.
On 5 September, the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister will be announced.
The two remaining candidates are both experienced leaders with a record of delivery.
The former chancellor, Rishi Sunak, led the UK’s economic response to the pandemic, saving millions of jobs through the furlough scheme, securing the future of venues like Buxton Opera House with the Cultural Recovery Fund and supporting the most vulnerable, putting in place a package of measures to help with the rising cost of living.
The Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has secured ground-breaking free trade agreements with our partners across the world and has helped to lead the UK’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – uniting a global coalition against Putin’s regime, and introducing a range of crippling sanctions.
From day one, the new Prime Minister will face a series of challenges which urgently need addressing.
Most pressing, is inflation. Inflation hit 9.4 per cent in June, the highest level in 40 years, and is expected to climb even further.
Inflation strips away the value of the pounds in our pocket, hitting every aspect our economy: people’s savings are eroded – pushing home ownership out of reach and reducing the value of pensions that people worked long and hard for.
I am particularly concerned about those on fixed and lower incomes whose real-term take-home pay gets hit most.
Driving the situation is the pressure on the energy market, with rising demand in China and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, compounded by Covid and the disruption to global supply chains.
As a result, the energy price cap is now due to rise 65% in October, taking typical bills to around £3,240 pounds per year, rising again in January. The Government has already put forward to mitigate these price rises, with one-third of households set to receive £1,200 each.
But tough choices lie ahead. The next Prime Minister must be honest with the public about this.
Our fiscal room for manoeuvre is increasingly small. Quantitative easing and pump priming the housing market are no longer viable options, if indeed they ever were.
We’re facing a demographic pinch, with an ageing population and fewer people of working age. Meaning the demands on the state grow while raising tax revenue becomes more and more difficult.
If we are not careful, we will end up with Scandinavian levels of taxation for Mediterranean standards of public services.
Now is not the time for telling people what they want to hear; we must put pragmatism ahead of ideology. This needs hard-headed mature judgement and grown-up politics.
Whoever wins, I’ll keep standing up for the High Peak!