PENNY Mordaunt has dropped out of the race for Number 10 meaning Rishi Sunak will become Britain’s next Prime Minister.
He has said little about how he might address the turmoil that followed the mini-budget.
But with only seven weeks having passed since the end of the previous leadership election, the promises he made over the summer provide some clues on what he might do as prime minister.
Mr Sunak’s commitment to balancing the books is well known and is what saw him hike the tax burden to its highest level for 70 years as chancellor despite his personal preference for lower taxes.
He is therefore unlikely to deviate from the tax U-turns set out by Jeremy Hunt on October 17, especially as he had already committed to some policies such as increasing corporation tax to 25%.
On spending, Mr Sunak’s instincts are likely to align with the spending cuts already trailed by Mr Hunt.
He was already unenthusiastic about large-scale spending commitments, saying in his first leadership bid that the Government needed to “return to traditional Conservative economic values” rather than “fairytales”.
The straitened situation the Government finds itself in thanks to soaring inflation and rising interest rates will only reinforce those instincts.
This could put paid to some of the larger spending promises in the 2019 manifesto, as well as Liz Truss’s pledge to increase defence spending to 3% of GDP, which he previously described as “arbitrary”.
Sunak’s main health policy during the last leadership election was bringing in a £10 penalty for missing appointments as part of efforts to tackle the NHS backlog.
He also promised a “backlogs taskforce” to coordinate that effort and an expansion of the number of overseas doctors and nurses brought in to work in the NHS.
It remains unclear whether he would seek to reintroduced the increase in national insurance that he brought in as chancellor. It was subsequently scrapped by Liz Truss.
His book-balancing instincts may push him towards doing so, but it would be the third change to that tax in a year and Jeremy Hunt said on October 17 that it would remain scrapped.
Mr Sunak’s immigration policies during the last leadership election focused entirely on curbing Channel crossings and toughening up asylum rules.
This included pushing ahead with the Government’s plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, tightening the definition of who can claim asylum and increasing resources for dealing with the backlog of asylum applicants.
In contrast, he said little about what he would do regarding work visas as the UK continues to face a labour shortage.
But the former chancellor did say he wanted to be “pragmatic” and ensure immigration policy supported economic growth, which suggests a more liberal approach to work visas than that favoured by the likes of former home secretary Suella Braverman.
During the last leadership election, Mr Sunak said he was committed to protecting the green belt and would stop local authorities attempting to release protected land for development.
This likely means the end of the Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment to build 300,000 homes a year and a move away from “top-down targets”.
Mr Sunak has said he remains committed to the UK’s target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
But his plans are more in line with those of Liz Truss than Boris Johnson, as he backs offshore wind, rooftop solar and nuclear power but appears less keen on solar farms and onshore wind.
During the last leadership election, he said he wanted to see the UK become energy independent by 2045, but also said he would keep the ban on building new onshore wind farms and vowed to prevent farmland being covered in solar panels.
He also backed lifting the moratorium on fracking, providing it had local support. This is the same policy that Ms Truss supported, but fracking has proved a contentious issue for Tory MPs and could therefore become a lower priority for Mr Sunak.
As chancellor, Mr Sunak cut VAT on home insulation measures and during the leadership campaign said he would “embark on a programme of massive energy efficiency upgrades in people’s homes”.
This would be a point of difference between Mr Sunak and Ms Truss, who largely avoided discussing insulation during her tenure. But it will also cost money, leaving further difficult choices to be made in Mr Sunak’s first budget.
Mr Sunak backed Brexit from the beginning and has previously expressed his support for the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill that would unilaterally rip up the agreement on Ireland.
In this, he is similar to Ms Truss. But the current Prime Minister also oversaw a relative thawing of relations with the EU and Ireland which he may wish to continue.
He would also be unlikely to deviate significantly from Ms Truss’s line on China, which he described as “the largest threat to Britain and the world’s security and prosperity this century”.