RISHI Sunak is back within touching distance of No10 and realising his dreams of becoming Prime Minister.
But as Britain’s 57th premier, he would be parachuted into a government grappling with some of the worst economic turmoil in peacetime.
Rishi Sunak is expected to be Britain’s 57th PM
Within days of taking the reins of office, he would face a series of tough decisions with huge consequences for ordinary families across the land.
Another mini-Budget is still due for October 31 if – Mr Sunak were to agreee – but will Brits be in line for a trick or treat this Halloween?
During the first Tory leadership contest against Liz Truss, Mr Sunak railed against her plans to unleash immediate tax cuts, warning they would drive inflation further.
He said he wanted to keep the 1.25 per cent rise in National Insurance to help clear the groaning NHS backlog.
But given most of the mini-Budget has been shredded, the PM-in-waiting will likely keep the NICs cut to spare more confusion.
While ultra-careful to balance the books and not stoke inflation further, Mr Sunak will likely dangle the prospect of future tax cuts.
His summer leadership bid promised to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 16p by the end of the next Parliament, so 2029 at the latest.
And he pledged to immediately shave VAT off energy bills to help with bills.
But – aware the markets are looking to him to reduce Britain’s massive debt pile – it is unlikely tax cuts will be top of Mr Sunak’s to-do list.
A crunch decision is looming next week over how much to increase benefits by.
Liz Truss was eyeing a rise of 6 per cent in line with earnings, but swathes of her MPs wanted pegged with inflation, meaning a rise of 10.1 per cent.
While Mr Sunak wants to make savings, he will not want to do battle with his backbenchers in his first few weeks in office.
It means he will likely choose to increase Universal Credit payments and other benefits by around 10.1 per cent next April.
A decision on pensions is also due to be made soon. After much flip-flopping, Liz Truss finally agreed to keep the triple lock as one of her last acts in the job.
It means OAPs are set to have their payments also rise by 10.1 per cent in line with inflation.
While Mr Sunak could choose to change tack – targeting support to the most vulnerable pensioners rather than doling out money to affluent retirees – the political backlash would be immense.
Mr Sunak has also vowed to use the 2019 manifesto as a mandate to govern, of which keeping the triple lock was a flagship pledge.
As part of efforts to plug a £40billion black hole in the public finances, Mr Sunak may ask departments to tighten their belts.
All budgets could face a squeeze, and controversially Ms Truss’ pledge to increase defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP could be cast onto the scrapheap.
One of Mr Sunak’s first acts will be assembling his new Cabinet. Jeremy Hunt is expected to stay as Chancellor to provide market stability.
Grant Shapps could also stay as Home Secretary and James Cleverly as Foreign Secretary.
But the incoming PM will certainly have a clearout to make room for his own allies.
Pals like Dominic Raab, Oliver Dowden and Robert Jenrick are all in line for Cabinet comebacks.
Whereas Trussites like Jacob Rees-Mogg and Simon Clarke are set to be sacked.