The National:

THE Prime Minister is pretty stuck for ideas.

With interest rates expected to be hiked for the fourteenth time running, and food inflation still at 17.4%, there is little doubt that the Conservatives have trashed the UK economy.

But the Tories were offered a whiff of hope when they managed to cling on to Boris Johnson’s old seat as voters in three Westminster by-elections took to the polls earlier in July.

That whiff smelled of petrol fumes, and Sunak is keen to make sure it doesn’t go away any time soon.

Instead, the Tories are looking to roll back on net-zero pledges and green policies such as low emission zones (LEZs) in cities in order to cling on to a handful of votes.

Shamelessly pandering to this voting bloc, Sunak has posted a bizarre photo on social media where he boasts about being sat in Margaret Thatcher’s old car.

“Talking about freedom, sat in Margaret Thatcher’s old Rover,” he wrote, alongside an image of himself literally beaming in the driving seat – though not actually driving.

“Earlier I spoke to @Telegraph about how important cars are for families to live their lives. It’s something anti-motorist Labour just don’t seem to get.

“And it’s why I’m reviewing anti-car schemes across the country,” Sunak finished.

The post was an instant hit, with one Twitter user responding: “I don't think I'm going to vote Tory WAIT WHAT IS THAT RISHI IN THATCHER'S OLD ROVER? This deep, meaningful and poignant symbolism changes everything!”

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But there was a flaw.

As one user pointed out, the “anti-car schemes” Sunak was talking about – such as the LEZ in Glasgow or the ultra LEZ in London – don’t prevent Thatcher’s old Rover going anywhere.

Plugging its number plate – GYE 329N – into the LEZ checker reveals: “This vehicle can be driven in any Low Emission Zone in Scotland.”

And London’s ULEZ checker says: “You are currently exempt from the ULEZ.”

And as University of Glasgow historian Dr Ewan Gibbs highlighted, Thatcher had a pretty negative impact on British motoring.

“Is that the same Margaret Thatcher who presided over the destruction of Britain’s car industry?” he wrote.

And King’s College London lecturer Alexander Clarkson added: “UK Prime Minister makes announcement about cars in an effort to save the Tory Party from collapse inside a car whose manufacturer collapsed twenty years ago.”

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And as others pointed out, Sunak is more often seen in a rather less man-of-the-people mode of transport.

“I thought Sunak's preferred mode of travel was a helicopter?” former Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz wrote.

In fact, the Prime Minister has a pretty poor record with cars. As another user quipped: “Remember when he didn't know how a petrol station worked?”

In case you don’t, it was in March 2022 that Sunak borrowed someone else’s car to do a photoshoot at a petrol pump – and then struggled to work out how to pay …