LONDON — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to halve inflation, grow the UK economy and stop illegal immigration on Wednesday as he laid out the Conservative government’s priorities in his first keynote speech. of the year 2023.
Sunak is focused on tackling the UK’s slowing economy and makes promises to reduce the national debt. He also vowed to pass new legislation to prevent migrants from reaching UK shores in small boats, as well as cut a large backlog in the UK public health service.
“Those are the priorities of the people. They are the priorities of your government. And we either get them or we don’t,” said Sunak.
“No tricks, no ambiguity, we will deliver to you or not. We will rebuild trust in politics through action, or nothing at all,” he added.
Sunak, who took office in October after a tumultuous year in UK politics with the resignations of two other prime ministers, insisted he would bring stability. He said his top priority is “halving inflation this year to reduce the cost of living and ensure financial security for people”.
Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, unveiled a disastrous unfunded tax cut package in September and was forced to quit after less than two months on the job. Her policies sent the pound plunging, driving up borrowing costs and prompting urgent intervention from Britain’s central bank.
Since Sunak replaced Truss at the end of October, the UK economy has stabilized but his government is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis and growing labor unrest. increased as key public sector workers from nurses and ambulance drivers to training workers organized disruptive strikes to demand higher wages to keep pace with soaring inflation.
Inflation in the UK stood at 10.7% in November — down slightly from October — but still near a four-decade high. The cost of energy and food has skyrocketed, largely due to Russia’s war with Ukraine, and the living standards of millions of Britons have dropped.
In recent weeks, Sunak’s government has also come under increasing pressure to address failures in the public health system, with many front-page headlines focusing on a shortage of hospital beds and waiting times. record waiting to see a doctor or call an ambulance.
Authorities have blamed high numbers of flu and COVID-19 cases, but health chiefs say the problems are long-standing and the result of the government’s lack of regular funding.
Sunak has also repeatedly said that preventing migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats to seek asylum in the UK is a priority during his tenure. Last year, more than 45,700 people crossed the Channel to reach the UK — a record high and up 60% from the figure in 2021.
“We are going to pass new legislation to stop small boats, ensuring that if you come to this country illegally, you will be detained and deported quickly,” Sunak said.
Sunak’s Conservative Party, which has been in power for 12 years, is lagging behind the opposition Labor Party in the polls. The next general election will take place at the end of 2024.