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Insight paper

Early questions for Sunak’s growth policy

Rishi Sunak needs a growth strategy built on patience – not a big bang.

Rishi Sunak at the CBI conference, 2022
Prime minister Rishi Sunak at the CBI conference

Rishi Sunak should reject any “dash for growth” and instead “hard-code” into his government a growth agenda robust enough for difficult times.  

This paper, written by former No.10 adviser Giles Wilkes, says Sunak should not drop Liz Truss’s growth agenda altogether but instead set out a competent, calm and consistent plan. This means building on parts of Boris Johnson’s policy programme. 

The paper is described by Wilkes as “something akin to a guide the prime minister might present to the rest of Whitehall’s economic machine on the question of long-term growth.” 

With the prime minister dealing with the cost-of-living crisis, the asylum backlog and Ukraine, No.10 cannot “own growth” and should not attempt to. The framework set out by Rishi Sunak when still chancellor is broadly the right one, and now requires steady delivery, rather than rapid reinvention. The key is to rely on institutions to shape and drive economic activity, rather than the “inspired and bold actions” of politicians. 

The paper’s recommendations include: 

  • taking a different approach to Brexit matters than either Truss or Johnson, to shore up business confidence. This includes a less reckless attitude towards renegotiation of the Northern Ireland protocol. 
  • putting the weight of No.10 behind the coordination efforts to get the economy and the public behind the net zero agenda. 
  • showing continuity with parts of the Johnson government’s policies, including the 2021 skills white paper and increased R&D spending.
  • committing to more regional devolution and recognising that giving away more power to local areas can boost growth and drive the levelling up agenda.
  • Sunak giving his support to the chancellor and business secretary as they develop a more interventionist industrial policy with clear priority sectors.  
Public figures
Rishi Sunak
Institute for Government

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