Rishi Sunak asks voters to judge him 'on results' in first major speech of 2023
Rishi Sunak has set out five promises to the public in his first major speech of 2023, with the prime minister telling voters "we’re either delivering for you or we’re not".
Speaking in Stratford, east London, on Wednesday afternoon, Sunak said his government would prioritise repairing the economy, reducing NHS waiting times, and stopping small boat crossings over the next twelve months.
With the Conservatives far behind Keir Starmer's Labour in the opinion polls ahead of the next general election, which must be called by the end of 2024, the prime minister asked people to "judge us on the effort we put in and the results we achieve".
Sunak, who has faced growing calls to set out his vision for the country after succeeding Liz Truss in 10 Downing Street in September, said his five pledges were foundations "on which to build a better future for our children and grandchildren".
On the economy, the prime minister said he would halve inflation "to ease the cost of living and give people financial security", create better-paid jobs, and make sure national debt is falling.
Sunak said NHS waiting lists would fall on his watch in 2023 and promised that people "will get the care they need more quickly".
The prime minister took to the stage under growing pressure to get a grip of the chaos engulfing the health service this winter, amid scenes across the country of overcrowded A&E departments, patients waiting hours and even days for treatment, and reports of oxygen running out.
Yesterday, his spokesperson told reporters the NHS was currently facing an "unprecedented" challenge, but insisted that the government was giving it sufficient funding.
Sunak is also under pressure to reach a pay settlement with NHS staff as nurses and ambulance drivers prepare to go on strike this month having taken the historic decision to do so late last year. Junior doctors may also join the picket line, potentially giving ministers another major headache.
Speaking in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Sunak reaffirmed his plan to tackle small boat crossings through new laws, "making sure that if you come to this country illegally, you are detained and swiftly removed".
“So, five promises – we will: Halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists, and stop the boats," the prime minister said.
“Those are the people’s priorities. They are your government’s priorities. And we will either have achieved them or not.
“No tricks, no ambiguity. We’re either delivering for you or we’re not. We will rebuild trust in politics through action, or not at all. So, I ask you to judge us on the effort we put in and the results we achieve.”
The SNP's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: “This speech was an opportunity for Rishi Sunak to fix the broken Britain that Westminster has created - to mend a broken relationship with the EU, to pay public sector workers what they are worth and to protect those who need help the most. He did none of those things.
"Instead, the prime minister made five flimsy promises, whilst people in Scotland are paying the price of five Tory prime ministers over the last thirteen years. Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss and now Sunak have all made plenty of promises - what they have actually delivered is austerity, Brexit and a denial of Scottish democracy.”
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