Rishi Sunak faces daunting in-tray as he steps into No 10

Rishi Sunak faces daunting in-tray as he steps into No 10

Updated: 1 month, 9 days, 9 hours, 55 minutes, 47 seconds ago

Rishi Sunak enters Number 10 with one of the toughest to-do lists in modern times.

The economy is in turmoil, people across the country are worried about the rising cost of living and there is war in Ukraine following the invasion of Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces.

His predecessor, Liz Truss, lasted just six weeks in office after a period of chaos during which the pound fell in value in response to her government’s mini-budget.

As a former chancellor, many will hope that his knowledge of the economy will help to restore market confidence.

Here, STV News takes a look at three key issues that will await Sunak when he enters Downing Street.

The economy

There is a huge task ahead for Sunak -who worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and for hedge funds before entering politics – to stabilise the economy.

Many will be sceptical of whether Sunak can relate to ordinary, working people in the UK, considering his own level of wealth.

Going into the winter period, a key worry for those across the UK is the rising cost of living, with energy and foods bills having increased.

Under Truss, the Government set out the Energy Price Guarantee, which sought to keep most people’s energy bills at around £2,500 maximum.

But, chancellor Jeremy Hunt shortened the length of the scheme from two years instead until April next year.

So, Sunak will be under pressure to step up and ensure that households are protected against rising costs as inflation bites, with mortgage costs already having jumped.

While chancellor, Sunak outlined plans to raise corporation tax from 19% to 25%, something that Truss had opposed but eventually U-turned on.

The amount of money that people have remaining in their pockets at the end of the month will be a key indicator of whether Sunak will have any popularity in office.

Scottish indendence

Liz Truss failed to speak with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her entire time in office.

Truss previously claimed that it would be best to “ignore” the SNP leader and she seemed to take that mantra very literally.

It would make sense politically for Sunak to make contact with Scotland’s First Minister to try and ease some of the tension between the Scottish and UK Governments.

During the Conservative leadership election, Sunak said that he cannot imagine the circumstances in which he would allow an independence referendum to take place.

Currently, the Supreme Court is considering whether the Scottish Parliament has the legislative competence in order to hold a referendum, with the UK Government insisting that it does not.

However, if the court were to find favour of the Scottish Government, Sunak could be facing an independence referendum in just a year’s time that will be critical to the future of the UK.

Sunak has said that he wants to take Sturgeon on and to “win the argument” on the union.

War in Ukraine

Russia invaded Ukraine just over eight months ago, with drones targeting cities including Kyiv.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson had a strong relationship with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and made visits to the country.

Johnson insisted on the UK strongly supporting Ukraine against Russia, including supplying the Ukrainians with military equipment.

Sunak will need to make it an early priority to outline the UK’s backing of Ukraine and will likely seek to build a strong relationship with Zelensky after he enters office.

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