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With net zero U-turn, Mr Stability is slipping

Saturday marks a year since the mini-Budget of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng sent the pound to an all-time low against the dollar, caused chaos on the markets and hiked up mortgages.

After so much turbulence, Rishi Sunak was supposed to be the man to steer the UK into calmer waters, a steady hand on the tiller, promising to take steps not for short-term political gain but in the long-term interests of a stable, resilient economy.

In his speech at Downing Street announcing his watering-down of net zero plans on Wednesday, Mr Sunak tried to appear the very essence of that stability and resilience. His lectern even carried the words “Long-Term Decisions for a Brighter Future”.

Yet this followed nearly 24 hours of Trussian chaos and uncertainty. It had been rumoured for weeks that the PM was planning to re-examine Boris Johnson’s 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, yet ministers and No 10 repeatedly insisted that that target was “immoveable”.

In July, Tata, the owners of Jaguar Land Rover, confirmed plans to build a £4bn electric vehicle battery factory in Somerset, a decision based on that 2030 target and a much-needed boost to the UK’s net zero investment agenda.

The weeks of uncertainty over the 2030 ban that followed, culminating in the botched handling of Mr Sunak’s announcement – it is not known who leaked the plans on Tuesday, but the leak is surely a sign that the captain of the ship is not fully in command of his crew – has caused dismay in the motoring industry.

When multibillion-pound investment decisions are at stake and an economy which is only just narrowly avoiding recession, the Prime Minister’s claim to be Mr Stability has taken a battering.

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