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Sunak comparing himself to Will Smith – when will this horror show end? | Tom Peck

Sunak comparing himself to Will Smith – when will this horror show end? | Tom Peck
With every passing day, the United Kingdom bears more and more resemblance to a place in very rapid decline

All day and night, the phone lines and the websites of very nearly every major energy provider crashed, unable to cope with half the country desperate to give them – let’s face it – dodgy meter readings, just to eke out maybe two more weeks of already outrageously expensive gas and electricity before the prices doubled overnight.

I type these words out and am struck with an almost wistful longing. This is the sort of thing I used to write in my little diary, almost two decades ago, while backpacking through various entirely corrupted, and semi-bankrupt countries on various continents throughout the world. It hardly needs to be stated that the above events are happening in the United Kingdom, which with every passing day bears more and more resemblance to a place in very rapid decline.

Esta, to be frank, is a show in two acts: the first part s*** show, the second part horror show. And it has a decent MacGuffin too. The government brought in the most draconian laws the country has ever seen, stripping people’s lives down to little more than a base existence for a very long time. It’s been found to have been breaking those laws itself, but we, the little people, aren’t allowed to know the names of anyone involved. And the prime minister is refusing to admit that any of it ever actually happened, even though he’s already apologised for it.

A large number of Tories are still happily exploiting the suffering of the people of Ukraine as a way to get their leader off the hook for the no longer “alleged” law breaking that happened in Downing Street durante a pandemia. One particularly stupid one even told the Guardian that the “mood in the party is pretty great” now that a brutal war had come along to spare them.

Breaking the law and lying about it obviously isn’t the “fluff” Jacob Rees-Mogg would like it to be, but there can be no way of playing down the scale of the massive crisis that is about to begin in this country. Sobre 2 abril, the price that people pay for a kilowatt of electricity is going to rise from roughly 20p to roughly 30p. The price of a kilowatt of gas will go up from about just under 4p to just over 7p. Those numbers are terrifying.

Para contexto, if you are part of a family in which both adults work, and both adults earn £36,000, you have, in comparative terms, so much income that you fall off the rich end of the UK income distribution graph produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. They only cover the first, poorest paid, 92 por cento da população.

You can be so rich you don’t get to be in the IFS’s graph because it will make it look bad, and still be absolutely terrified about how you’re going to pay your gas and electricity bill. If things are frightening at the chart-busting, money pit end of the spectrum, where your average teacher or PA lives, the scene at the bottom end is a total horror show that starts in two days’ time.

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The news bulletins are already full of horrific stories of terrifyingly hungry gas and electricity meters eating children’s dinners, and the worst of it has not even started. Overnight, for millions and millions of people, the numbers will simply cease to add up.

The chancellor has been given a chance to act and has completely failed to do so. The reason he hasn’t acted now, we are led to believe, is that in the autumn it will get even worse again and he’ll have to act then, but it will already be far too late regardless.

While all this goes on, he has been giving media interviews, and getting tetchy about being asked about his wife’s father’s £10bn company, Infosys, and its refusal to stop doing business in Russia.

Esta, apparently, is unfair. He’s been making dim jokes comparing himself to Will Smith. In any professional service, you’re expected to declare potential conflicts of interest both for yourself and your spouse. Sunak’s wife is a shareholder in Infosys to the estimated tune of £500m. No one’s making cheap jokes about her hair, they merely want to know if Sunak’s wife has a material interest in a business still operating in Putin’s Russia, and he’s answering that question by getting tetchier and tetchier, and not actually answering it at all.

If Sunak has seen and understood what’s coming, he is doing a very good job of pretending otherwise – but the time for pretence is going to run out, very very soon indeed. Johnson’s only hope, in the medium term, is that people are prepared to forgive him for the rampant law breaking that we now know went on in Downing Street. In the next few days, the country is not going to be in the mood for forgiveness.