DURING a Saturday stroll in the Teesside sun with his sleeves rolled up and his Prada shoes on show, Rishi Sunak was photographed pointing in almost every direction as far as the eye could see.

What was he looking to highlight? Perhaps it was the Treasury campus in Darlington, or the work Fujifilm are doing in Billingham on the Novavax Covid vaccine, or even the Teesworks projects championing green energy including carbon capture and storage.

Read more: Rishi Sunak's pledges for the North East if he becomes Prime Minister

The Northern Echo:

Whatever it was, the former Chancellor believes the Conservatives' recent record in the North East – and Teesside in particular – is a blueprint for the rest of the UK to follow and how he sees his vision for ‘Sunak Britain’.

He said: “You have seen a glimpse of it, of the future. It is Teesside.

“I used Teesside at the end of one of my budget speeches when I talked about the future economy that I wanted to build in this country and what is happening here.

“I am so proud of the change that has happened here. This is one of the best places in the UK to work, live and bring up a family, and I want everyone in the UK to feel like that.”

Those of us who call this part of the world home will agree with the sentiment, but can Mr Sunak really call his record on Teesside a success?

As he tried to make his case last week that the North East was indeed 'Ready for Rishi', new figures showed the region now has the highest rate of child poverty in the country.

Read more: As it happened: Rishi Sunak in the North East as part of Conservative leadership bid

The Northern Echo:

The story doesn't end there. The North East experienced by far the steepest increase in child poverty across the UK in recent years, moving from being just below the national average to having the highest rate of any region in just six years.

Six of the region’s local authorities feature in the top 20 areas where the rates are highest. Redcar, where Mr Sunak proudly spent Saturday morning boasting about his Teesside legacy, has nearly four in 10 children living in poverty.

When the Richmond MP was giving people cash to spend in their favourite restaurant, his approval ratings were sky high. Indeed, most of his financial support to guide the region through the pandemic should be commended.

As of course should his decisions on Treasury campus an renewable energy. For levelling up to work, it needs major statements of intent to get the ball rolling.

But it isn't enough in isolation, and with energy bills rising, fuel prices rocketing and food shopping more expensive than ever, Sunak's vision needs to go much further if he really wants to claim a successful legacy.

He was criticised for being slow to react to the cost of living crisis that continues to engulf families, and those struggling to survive will have a very different view of his record.

Rishi may well be Prime Minister in a few weeks time, and only then will we really learn what Sunak Britain looks like. But the glimpse into the future he has offered us leaves more questions than answers so far.

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