Vicki Hawthorne: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warns of tough times ahead after 'mistakes' of Truss

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak first address.
Rishi Sunak first speech as Prime Minister outside Downing Street. Credit: PA

Liz Truss left Downing Street this morning saying she knew there were “brighter days ahead”.

In truth the clocks go back this weekend and the new Prime Minister has instead warned of the reality of darker days to come.

Rishi Sunak arrived at Downing Street without his family, without advisers or staff, but with a serious demeanour.

He said: “Our country is facing a profound economic crisis” and that there are “difficult decisions to come”.

In his first speech to the waiting media as Prime Minister he acknowledged the last few weeks of economic turbulence saying “mistakes were made".

He caveated those mistakes by suggesting his predecessor Liz Truss meant well.

Mr Sunak also attempted to dispel the calls from the opposition for a General Election. He said the mandate Boris Johnson secured in 2019 “belongs to us all” and that he would work to deliver the Conservative Party manifesto to fix the NHS, control borders, to level up across the UK.

He mentioned the need to gain trust. Another acknowledgment of the criticism of Downing Street parties during the pandemic, among other things.

But he did not mention the Northern Ireland Protocol or the ticking clock at Stormont.

That’s not surprising, Liz Truss rarely mentioned those problems either during her short time in office.

However, Mr Sunak is going to have to make some decisions about Northern Ireland very soon. Will he engage deeper and further with the EU to try to resolve the protocol? Will he go ahead with another Stormont election? Or will he attempt to buy more time?

The new Prime Minister has made clear that fixing the economy will be his priority and he is determined to display an extremely businesslike manner. Mr Sunak did not smile on arrival at No.10. The media just about encouraged him to give a short wave before going inside.

The leaves on the ground at Westminster unfurled in the spring when Boris Johnson was Prime Minister, began to colour and fall when Liz Truss was in office.

Now Rishi Sunak has the job of brushing them up.

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