The Guardian view on Sunak’s U-turn: bad for him but good for the country | Editorial

Only a few days ago the chancellor said he could not ‘save every job’. It turns out he can

Rishi Sunak has been forced to dump his winter economy plan and it’s only autumn. The chancellor is reintroducing the furlough scheme, available to companies told to shut in regions where Covid-19 infection rates are high and rising. He had previously defied calls to introduce such support. Instead he had opted to provide state cash for “viable” jobs, defined as employment where people could work part-time. Now the chancellor has had to make a U-turn. As reality bites, it may be the first of many.

Mr Sunak does not exist in a bubble. Harold Macmillan reportedly expressed this point pithily when, asked what caused governments most trouble, he replied with the now-famous: “Events, dear boy, events.” Because the chancellor held a Panglossian view of how well Boris Johnson’s government was doing in the pandemic, he did not envisage that he would need to save jobs or businesses again with government spending. He is now walking back from his midweek claim that he could not “save every job”.

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