The last time we embarked on a Tory leadership election, the nation was dealing with wildfires and a persistent heatwave. Now, as Halloween approaches, the government is hoping to put an end to the horror story – one that has involved a zombie government and a definition-defying 44-day Liz Truss administration – with a new PM.

Yes, today it was confirmed Rishi Sunak will be the latest to benefit from Boris’s expensive No 10 decorations.

Anyone expecting similarly lavish spending from the new PM, however, is likely to be in for a shock – even if this was the man that brought us furlough, Eat Out to Help Out and a business rates refund for everyone from corner shops to Tesco.

How things have changed since that not-so-distant era, when most Brits thought things couldn’t get much worse.

Now, after last month’s mini-budget was sent to the shredder by new chancellor Jeremy Hunt – a desperate effort to repair the damage done by Truss’s short-lived gamble – talk is of a new era of austerity. Some fear the upcoming cuts to spending could make George Osborne’s stint look positively cheery.

All eyes will be on the next financial statement, set to be delivered by Hunt on Monday. Because the job of the new man at No 10 and his unlikely next-door neighbour is, of course, only about one thing.

Unless the Conservatives can bring a sense of stability to the markets after weeks of chaos, a general election seems a certainty – even though they will be desperate to avoid it, given the party’s dreadful position in the polls.

Yet all this comes with a background every bit as tumultuous as the summer, if not worse. With war in Ukraine still raging, millions wondering how they will heat their homes this winter and food inflation biting into household budgets, there are enormous demands on the Exchequer.

This, of course, is likely to have massive implications for the food and drink industry. The ongoing chaos in government has already delayed any progress on the National Food Strategy, environmental initiatives and aid for millions of families in food poverty. That stagnation is likely to continue as a new PM looks to get a grip on the economy. 

But that’s not the only implication. Whereas at one stage it looked like we were set for a war on the ‘big state’ and a bonfire of red tape, market turmoil will put at risk any policies that are not seen as strictly essential for the economy.

Already it appears the chances of food and drink businesses being granted long-term help with soaring energy bills are doomed. Calls for an overhaul to business rates – a long-running industry demand – look like they will remain wishful thinking.

Meanwhile, with Trussonomics dead and gone, the prospect of further taxes on industry like the sugar levy are once again being talked about in Westminster circles.

For companies wondering what the latest events will mean for them, the message is not so much that Things Can Only Get Better, as a previous election campaign declared, but to prepare for them to get even worse –  at least in the short term.

Even if Sunak can help steady the tiller, it will be up to businesses to chart a path through the stormy waters ahead.