Updated May 23rd, 2024 at 12:57 IST

'Economic Stability, Security, Immigration': Rishi Sunak Outlines Battle Lines for UK Poll Campaign

Rishi Sunak signalled in a speech Wednesday the issues on which he wants to fight the next UK general election.

Reported by: Digital Desk
The United Kingdom’s first election in five years is shaping up as a battle for the country’s soul. | Image:AP
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London: Rishi Sunak, Britain's first Prime Minister, on Wednesday announced that the UK's general election will be held on July 4, saying it is time for the country to choose its future. The UK Prime Minister has also outlined the key issues he intends to champion in the upcoming general election, scheduled for July 4. 

Economic Stability

A key focus of PM Sunak's campaign will be "economic stability," which he calls the foundation for future success. Despite facing a cost-of-living crisis and a recent recession, Sunak plans to make "economic stability" a central theme of his campaign, calling it the "bedrock of any future success."

Although recent polls indicate that voters have more confidence in Labour than in Sunak's Conservatives regarding economic matters, Sunak celebrated two recent "major milestones" that he is likely to emphasize. These include inflation dropping below three percent, paving the way for potential mortgage rate cuts, and IMF data showing that the UK economy is growing faster than those of France, Germany, and the United States.

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Covid Chancellor

Sunak opened his speech by stating that "in the last five years, our country has faced the most challenging times since the Second World War," highlighting his own involvement in these crises.

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As finance minister under Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the Covid pandemic, Sunak credited his furlough scheme on Wednesday for preventing "millions of job losses." However, this scheme also resulted in a record level of peacetime borrowing.

Security Focus

In his latest shift as leader, Sunak has positioned the Conservatives as the party of defence and security, a point he reiterated on Wednesday. "This election will take place at a time when the world is more dangerous than it has been since the end of the Cold War," he stated.

"I will forever do everything in my power to provide you with the strongest possible protection," he added.

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According to a YouGov poll, defence is the only one of the top ten key issues where the public trusts the Tories more than Labour.

Immigration

Sunak also highlighted his party's record on immigration, coinciding with the release of new annual arrival figures on Thursday.

However, this strategy carries risks, as public anger remains high over the number of people crossing the Channel.

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He promised that his plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda would "stop the boats," but significant legal delays mean that few, if any, people will actually be sent to the African nation by election day.

Health Service

The National Health Service (NHS) ranks as the second most important issue for voters. Sunak briefly mentioned it, stating that the Tories had given it "record funding."

However, public confidence in the government's management of the NHS has plummeted due to record waiting lists, and this is likely to be an area Labour will focus on during the campaign.

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Net Zero Plans

Sunak's move to delay the UK's net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target is a major point of difference between the Tories and opposition parties.

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Sunak defended the delay, which was widely criticized by environmental groups, saying it would appeal to his party's base, who are more worried about the economic costs of the net-zero goal.

"We prioritised energy security and your family finances over environmental dogma," he said.

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Attacks on Keir Starmer

Sunak also hinted at his campaign's attacks on Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is the favorite to become the next prime minister.

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Sunak claimed that Starmer has no leadership plan and would "do anything to get power."

"If he was happy to abandon all the promises he made to become Labour leader once he got the job, how can you know that he won't do exactly the same thing if he wants to become prime minister?" he said.

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Even though most voters don't think highly of Starmer, he is much more liked than the prime minister, who has a very low approval rating of -51 according to a recent YouGov poll.

 

 


 

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Published May 23rd, 2024 at 09:05 IST