If it looks like Tory austerity, cuts like Tory austerity and slashes like Tory austerity... then it probably is Tory austerity.

Rishi Sunak denies he’s returning to Conservative life-sapping economics but his claim fails the duck test.

He’s squeezing pay packets, pinching benefits, reducing spending and sacrificing the world’s poorest.

These are the habitual characteristics of a Tory Chancellor.

It’s the usual Tory austerity, only now with added malice.

Covid is both a motivator and alibi for the wealthy banker in the Treasury, married to an even richer heiress.

'I'm not giving you any money, you'll only spend it on food!'

The impression he cares more about personal PR than the lives of the millions he’s hurting is reminiscent of former Chancellor George Osborne.

Sunak is also a Tory who divides to rule, pitting the comfortable against the hard-up and public service workers against the private sector.

The twist is Sunak, with the connivance of his unprincipled line manager Boris Johnson, is relying on stoking concern over international aid spending to avoid responsibility for his own miserable policies. Abandoning the wretched of the earth, leaving children to die for want of clean water and vaccinations, is unforgivable.

A true leader would have defended the misrepresented aid budget by explaining the moral and diplomatic value of global decency.

Osborne never made it to No10, brought down by David Cameron’s referendum defeat and Theresa May’s vengeance. Sunak, the hot favourite to succeed Johnson, isn’t brave or bold. Subterfuge and ­deception are the Chancellor’s favourite tools.

Deliberately ignoring Brexit in his Commons statement was nothing but pure cowardice.

He knows leaving the European Union and a bad trade deal – or no deal at all – will inflict greater harm to the economy than Covid.

The virus has shrunk our economy by 11.3% this year, the steepest financial slump since the Great Frost of 1709.

Returning to austerity is foolishness.

It shows that this Chancellor has learned nothing from the past decade.

Going for growth – putting pounds into people’s pockets – improves living standards, expands the economy and reduces debt.

No wonder Labour is targeting the Chancellor – him sinking instead of swimming will be key to the result of the next general election.