Echo commentary ahead of Sunak’s first party leader speech

Since taking over following the collapse of Liz Truss, Mr Sunak has steadied the ship through his competence and common sense. In negotiating the Windsor framework, which begins to clear up some of the mess Brexit has left Northern Ireland in, he worked out details that his predecessor Boris Johnson could never have grasped.

But it wasn’t enough to just be a manager. The Tories fell so badly under Mr Johnson and were then ridiculed so much because of Ms Truss that Labour’s lead in the polls is still large – even if enthusiasm for Keir Starmer is not as great.

So in recent weeks Mr Sunak has been ahead, trying to put clear waters between himself and Labour. But so far he has only said what he is not: he is not net zero, he is not immigration, he is not the tax cut, he is not HS2, he is not the 20mph zone…

Today he must explain what he is for and what point it would make if the country gave him five more years on top of the 13 years the Tories had, during which even our schools began to crumble.

There are pros and cons to HS2, but at least it offered the vision of a shiny, modern railway rushing across the spine of Britain, connecting the country’s major cities and leaving Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds on a par with prosperous London. Does he have a vision to replace it?

This is what the Tories themselves are looking for when they listen to Ms Truss and flirt with Nigel Farage again.

It is a huge task and Mr Sunak’s speech will go a long way in deciding whether the Tories have a chance of regaining the leadership of the Labor Party.

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