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by Kirsteen Paterson
13 May 2024
Rishi Sunak singles out Scottish nationalists as he warns of 'threats' to UK in major speech

Rishi Sunak leaves the Policy Exchange | Alamy

Rishi Sunak singles out Scottish nationalists as he warns of 'threats' to UK in major speech

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has named Russia, China, Iran and "Scottish nationalists" as major threats to the UK in a major speech.

Speaking at the Policy Exchange think tank, Sunak said voters will choose "between the future and the past" at the forthcoming general election, which is now expected in the second half of the year.

He said he is "confident that my party can prevail" because it will present a plan to "restore people's confidence and pride in our county".

And he said he is "convinced that the next five years will be some of the most dangerous, yet most transformational our country has ever known", he presented a list of threats to life in the UK.

These include the actions of foreign nations like Iran and North Korea and internal threats like "aggressive fringe groups" and "Scottish nationalists".

Sunak said: "The dangers that threaten our country are real. They're increasing in number: an axis of authoritarian states like Russia, Iran, North Korea and China is working together to undermine us and our values. 

"War has returned to Europe with our Nato allies warning that if Putin succeeds in Ukraine they might be next. War rages too in the middle east as Israel defends itself not only against the terrorists of Hamas but against a barrage of missiles fired from the first time directly from Iran.

"Right now, in Africa conflicts are being fought in 18 different countries and Putin's recklessness has taken us closer to a dangerous nuclear escalation than at any point since the Cuban Missile Crisis."

Saying "extremists" are using global conflicts to "set Briton against Briton", he went on: "From gender activists trying to hijack children's sex education to cancel culture, vocal and aggressive fringe groups are trying to impose their views on the rest of us. They're trying to make it morally unacceptable to believe something different and undermine people's confidence and pride in our own history and identity.

"Scottish nationalists are even trying to tear our United Kingdom apart."

Describing migration as a "new and defining challenge of our age", Sunak said only his party had "the strength to challenge conventions and do something different about it" through the Rwanda scheme and other policies.

And he suggested the UK could leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) if the court in Strasbourg seeks to block deportation flights, saying international frameworks are "outdated" and "there may be flashpoints ahead with the ECHR".

Accusing Labour, which is moving ahead of the Tories in the polls, of acting "like a pressure group", Sunak said: "Yes, maybe then can depress their way to victory with all their talk of doom loops and scaremongering about pensions.

"But I don't think it will work because at heart we are a nation of optimists but not blind to the challenges or threats that we face. We just have an innate belief that whatever they are we can overcome them, as we have done so many times in our history, and create a secure future for you and your family."

Commenting, SNP depute Westminster leader Mhairi Black said: "Independence is supported by half of Scotland's population and Rishi Sunak's desperate attack on Scottish voters will only encourage more people to reject the Tories and vote SNP.

"The real extremists in the UK are the Tory Party who have trashed the economy, imposed deep cuts to public services and dragged Scotland out of the EU against our will.

"And the best way to beat the Tories in Scotland is to vote SNP at the general election to stand up for Scotland's values and advance Scotland's journey to independence."

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