IN his first months as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak was the Duracell Bunny who ran rings around tortoise Sir Keir Starmer and revived hope among bickering Tories.
Then everything went flat over a long summer of energy sapping Partygate rows and soaring inflation.
I feared the PM had turned into “Dr Dolittle”. Starmer dubbed him “Inaction Man”.
We were both wrong.
But it is the Labour leader, not me, who is paying the price.
Rishi promptly lopped it off.
The bungling ex-state prosecutor stands accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of democracy and selling the British people down the river.
Urged on by ex-Labour PM Tony Blair and a host of other New Labour retreads, he has blurted out plans to slide back into the cloying embrace of the EU we voted to leave in 2016.
Under Starmer, we will ditch our freshly retrieved sovereignty, obey EU rules over which we have no say, pay billions for the privilege and take all the illegal migrants Brussels sees fit to send.
All this while signing up to associate membership of a regime whose sole objective is to bash us for daring to leave in the first place.
Starmer frantically denies this, despite being caught red-handed in a Canadian TV chat with other left-wing leaders.
The only surprise, considering his despicable wrecking antics as Jeremy Corbyn’s Remainer-in-Chief, is that he has been lured into the vote-losing quicksands so soon.
I can’t see Red Wall voters buying this shabby con trick.
We will find out for sure in the May elections, but among all the reasons for rejecting Starmer and sticking with Rishi this trumps all.
The political mileage for the Tories is boundless.
We would never, for instance, regain any of the “good bits” about EU membership — the rebate worth more than £100billion since Maggie Thatcher handbagged it in 1985.
Britain better off
We would have no vote in the unaccountable and unelected councils of Europe or any say in its soulless bureaucracy.
Indeed, the EU itself is nowhere near the fledgling superstate it was when we left.
The ever-expanding union is wracked by self-inflicted squabbles over cash, immigration and the rights of nation states to enforce their own laws.
The vaunted single currency is struggling for survival and its powerhouse German economy is spluttering into recession.
Brexit Britain, meanwhile, is defying its critics, with stronger economic growth than the EU average and lucrative new global trade deals — impossible if we were still members.
There is clear evidence Britain is better off out and would pay dearly for being “allowed” back in.
Polls by The Sun’s Matt Goodwin show his decision to delay a crackdown on heat pumps and petrol and diesel cars and vans, saving Sun readers up to £15,000, is backed by almost two out of three voters.
Together, these provide clear dividing lines and stark choices between Labour and the Tories at the next election.
And there is plenty more where these came from — including a shake-up on education, house building and reform of the creaking NHS.
Despite Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s woeful “no tax cuts” pledge, the spring Budget will cut and then abolish the hated inheritance tax, wooing back millions of unhappy Blue Wall Tory voters.
So far, these moves have had little or no impact on Labour’s stonking lead.
That will change as rivals unwrap their election goodies during the autumn party conferences.
The Tories will be first at the starting gun for their rally in Manchester next week.
Rishi Sunak can see the whites of the enemy’s eyes. He is ready for his troops to open fire.
The Hare and the Tortoise . . . let’s hope this doesn’t turn out to be a fairy story.
Take a step back
LAST week’s news that Rupert Murdoch was about to step back as “The Boss” of News Corp caught me by surprise on holiday in Sicily.
I did a couple of interviews about the Great Man for TalkTV from my hotel room, forgetting a sculpture on the wall of an 800 BC Greek god, right, dressed like Russell Brand without the Y-fronts.
Moments after signing off, YouTube was in touch, banning us from “monetising” the content on the grounds of decency.
For social media, the source of so many modern evils, antiquity is no defence