So it’s obviously Liz Truss. Unless some extraordinary gaff derails her, the foreign secretary is nailed on as our next prime minister. 

Steve Norris

Steve Norris

It is ironic that at most of the hustings over these last too many weeks the winner among the audience has been Rishi Sunak. But the Tory tribe as a whole clearly cares more for Liz’s easy lines about loving her country and tax cuts beginning on day one than they do for Rishi’s awkward habit of pointing out that what she’s talking about is economic illiteracy. If our priority should be to protect the most vulnerable from the effects of rapid inflation and energy costs in particular, then tax cuts don’t help those who don’t earn enough to pay tax or are on benefits.

On 22 February this year, the world was a very different place. Yes, we had labour shortages in key industries like construction and hospitality. The bank base rate was 0.5%. Yes, the Northern Ireland protocol issue was yet to be resolved. But life in most other respects was pretty normal.

The following day, those who believed that Putin really was just conducting an exercise on the borders of Ukraine were shocked to the core as the reality of war in Europe involving nuclear powers on both sides became a reality.

The following six months have brought the greatest challenges to our economy and our whole way of life since the end of the last great war in 1945. And in all this, it became clear to most parliamentarians that the man who led our country was unfit to do so. Meanwhile, a focus group of Tory party members run by The Times found a majority would like to see Boris back and described Sunak as a ferret in Prada loafers and Truss as Jemima Puddleduck – the only consolation for the Tories being that Starmer was described as the Invisible Man.

Sadly, Michael Gove will not be an asset for the new administration to call on. His decision to step down from front-line politics is understandable but removes a unique talent. I have always been a huge Gove fan, not least because he is a true change agent. In every department he has served in he has made massive improvements, and despite some developers not liking his cladding challenge, the fact is he set more change in motion in our industry over a few months than most of his predecessors ever got close to.

Competent government

But in another respect, we will get a government based on competence rather than one chosen for their blind loyalty to Johnson – largely a willingness to say whatever he wanted them to say to keep their jobs. Kwasi Kwarteng is pretty certain to be the next chancellor and is the right man for the job. It is unlikely that Patel will stay in the Home Office and there are a number of serious candidates to replace Truss at the Foreign Office.

They will have some urgent issues on their plates. Union militancy typified by Mick Lynch of the RMT, seemingly performing a Bob Crow tribute act, is mirrored across the public sector in particular. Faced with huge rises in food and energy cost and inflation above 10% the unions have a case.

Millions in the private sector face the same challenges but without the government as their employer. There is still a war in Ukraine. Our relationship with the EU is still horribly fraught. The early decisions the new team takes will not only determine the outcome of the next general election but will have an impact on the lives of every single person in this country, rich or poor, young or old, for good or ill.

Whatever one’s view of the merits of Truss, we should all say a silent prayer for her success. Not for her sake, but for ours.

Steve Norris is chairman of Soho Estates and Future-Built