FORMER chancellor Rishi Sunak is lauded by his supporters for his role in the introduction of the UK furlough scheme during the worst of the pandemic.

However, the job retention plan set out by Mr Sunak, who during some speeches was at risk of sounding as if he was funding it with his own money, while welcome, was not the European leader after all.

This week, former Brexit minister David Davis cites furlough and says “in the middle of the Covid crisis we had the best economic policy in the world”.

However, according to the Institute for Government, the UK’s £68 billion furlough scheme was not the seminal idea it has been made out to be, nor was it the first in Europe.

HeraldScotland: Rishi Sunak on Friday and, inset, David Davis, who made furlough and economy claims. PA Wire.Rishi Sunak on Friday and, inset, David Davis, who made furlough and economy claims. PA Wire.

In the leading think-tank’s study, it said: “At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when many advanced economies were in lockdown, most governments put in place, or extended existing, schemes to support wages.

"Countries that adopted wage subsidy schemes were mainly those with no pre-existing scheme of this sort – including Canada, Ireland and Australia.

“Short-time working schemes already existed in Germany, France and some other continental European countries – these were made more generous during the pandemic.

"The UK is unusual in having had no existing scheme but opting for a (continental-style) short-time working scheme rather than a broader wage subsidy scheme.”

It added: “Ireland was the first country to actually issue payments to workers, on March 27, 2020. The UK, Australia and Canada did not start to make payments until the beginning of May, as payments were made in arrears.”

The UK’s 2023 growth is to be slower than every G20 country except Russia, said the International Monetary Fund.

Furlough was maybe not so much the wondrous invention by the UK Government, but more a catch-up to the standard crisis response.

As the scrap for the post of caretaker prime minister sinks ever lower, business editor Ian McConnell this week shone a light on the debate.

“What was striking about the largely cringeworthy debate on the BBC between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss on Monday night was the Conservative leadership hopefuls’ refusal to acknowledge in any way whatsoever their contribution to the UK economic woes they talked about solving,” he writes.

“Each seemed to be at extreme pains to paint a picture of how they would be the best person to be in charge in these grim economic times, and to declare why the other candidate’s plans were not the answer.”

He says that “even taking into account his plan to raise corporation tax, Mr Sunak did not impress at all as chancellor”, and pointing to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ international trade deals that struggle to “amount to a hill of beans in aggregate terms”.

Deputy business editor Scott Wright says the Clydesdale family deserves respect over its decision to sell the Ubiquitous Chip. “It is certainly easy to imagine that the process of deciding to sell will have been agonising for Colin Clydesdale and Carol Wright,” he says. “Equally, one can easily assume they will have thought long and hard about who to sell to.”

Also this week, a heads-up from business correspondent Kristy Dorsey in her aviation analysis piece, that “higher ticket prices may persist beyond the UK air industry’s summer of discontent”.