Rishi Sunak(Image: Getty)

In a critical op-ed by Craig Oliver, former director of politics and communications at No 10, Rishi Sunak, the current Conservative Party leader, is cautioned that his political career may be approaching its end.

Oliver, who exited the government post-Brexit referendum in 2016, delivered a straightforward assessment of what he perceives as the shortcomings of Sunak’s leadership, asserting that the final blow to his political standing has already been dealt.

Oliver’s piece in Politics Home extensively examined the string of controversies that have afflicted the Conservative Party since their substantial victory in the 2019 General Election under Boris Johnson’s leadership.

Key factors, including the “partygate” scandal and what Oliver termed as the “disastrous handling of the economy by Liz Truss,” were highlighted as issues that have caught the attention of the electorate. According to Oliver, there is “no sign that they will shift back,” indicating potential electoral challenges for the Tories in the future.

“The received wisdom is that we are way past the point where the final nail has been hammered into Rishi Sunak’s political coffin, and it is now underground, with his own MPs tramping the dirt down,” wrote Oliver, vividly illustrating his perception of Sunak’s political decline.

While acknowledging the inherent unpredictability of modern politics, Oliver expressed doubt about Sunak’s ability to stage a comeback, suggesting that any reversal would require something “so extraordinary it is almost impossible to imagine.”

Oliver focused on the internal divisions within the Conservative Party, particularly regarding Sunak’s handling of the small boats issue. Despite narrowly securing enough support for the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill earlier in the month, Sunak faced significant opposition to his proposals. Oliver criticized Sunak for turning it into a “test of his Government’s virility,” implying that this approach exacerbated the challenges faced by the Conservative leader.

The bill passed through Parliament on December 12, with 313 MPs supporting the legislation and 269 in opposition, marking a victory for Sunak. However, Oliver predicted further backlash for Sunak during the third reading of the bill next month.

In the midst of the chaos surrounding Sunak’s leadership, Oliver pointed out that the Labour Party seems to gain an advantage by appearing “vaguely sensible” in comparison. Even the strategic move of inviting David Cameron, Oliver’s former boss, to be Foreign Secretary backfired as Cameron became embroiled in controversy over the Elgin Marbles debacle.

Oliver concluded his piece by referencing Keir Starmer’s call to end constant drama but criticized the Labour leader for suggesting a replacement with the ‘mundane.’ Nevertheless, he asserted that Labour’s perceived sensibility might be sufficient for them to secure victory based on anti-Tory sentiment.

“I may end up with egg on my face, but I’m afraid I think it’s all over bar the shouting for Rishi Sunak,” Oliver concluded, issuing a stark warning about the political future of the Conservative Party’s current leader.

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