Rishi Sunak pushes ahead with ‘clear-eyed realism’

Rishi Sunak pushes ahead with ‘clear-eyed realism’
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The issue of inflation and how best to curb it has drawn clear battle lines in the race to 10 Downing Street, with the two finalists offering opposing visions – which Rishi Sunak has dubbed a battle between his “clear-eyed realism” as opposed to his rival’s “starry-eyed boosterism”, as he continues to traverse the length and breadth of the country to win over Conservative Party members’ votes.

While UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has promised immediate tax cuts if elected, the British Indian former Chancellor has chosen a more targeted approach to help people through the cost-of-living crisis.

A fresh row brewed out over the weekend after Truss told ‘The Financial Times’ that her plan to lower taxes rather than offer handouts was more Conservative. This prompted an immediate rebuke from the Sunak camp that it is "simply wrong to rule out further direct support" for struggling families this winter.

“Families are facing a long, hard winter with rising bills. Yet Liz’s plan to deal with that is to give a big bung to large businesses and the well-off, leaving those who most need help out in the cold,” Sunak writes in ‘The Sun’ this week.

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“Worse still, she has said she will not provide direct support payments to those who are feeling the pinch most… We need clear-eyed realism, not starry-eyed boosterism. That means bolder action to protect people from the worst of the winter. I have the right plan and experience to help people through,” he said.

Supporters of Truss hit back to say her remarks over the weekend had been “misinterpreted”.

Both candidates are feeling the heat on the issue as the UK economy is expected to plunge into a year-long recession as inflation goes beyond 13 per cent later this year, according to the Bank of England gloomy forecasts from last week.

In an interview with ‘The Sunday Times’, Sunak sought to strike a reassuring note: “I’ve got what it takes to help get the country through a challenging period and make sure we emerge stronger and together on the other side. I’ve done that already and I can do that again and people can trust me to do that.”

In the interview, he also shared a glimpse into his family life – with wife Akshata Murty and daughters Krishna, 11, and Anoushka, 9. Whether it was the spark from the moment he first met Murty, daughter of Indian software major Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy and writer Sudha Murthy, or the joy of being able to share in the parental duties at the birth of their daughters, Sunak struck quite the candid note.

He revealed: “I was very lucky because when they were born, I ran my own business with others but I was completely in control of my time and so I was very much around.

“I always say my parenting sweet spot is zero to three and I was really lucky that when they were that age I had the time to just be there a lot and do a lot. I loved every second of it. Every time I’m on the campaign trail and I see a little baby or something, my arm goes out.”

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The couple, who met while he was studying for an MBA at Stanford University, got married in a two-day ceremony in Bangalore in 2006. Sunak admits switching his class schedule around at Stanford to be in a particular class to sit next to Murty.

“I didn’t really need to take it but I did it anyway so we could sit next to each other,” he recalls.

On a lighter note reflecting their strong marital partnership, he adds: “I’m incredibly tidy, she’s very messy. I’m much more organised, she is more spontaneous. She is not going to love me for saying this, but I’ll be honest with you, she is not big on the whole tidying thing. She is a total nightmare, clothes everywhere... and shoes... oh God shoes.”

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