Game changer: Rishis radical policy blitz to fix Britain
The Prime Minister axed the phase of HS2, instead ploughing £36billion into improving transport services across the country. And he is focused on improving life for future generations by creating the “best education system” in the Western world, and introducing a smoking ban that will stop youngsters from taking up the habit.
Mr Sunak invoked Margaret Thatcher as he insisted that concentrating on reducing inflation instead of tax cuts must be the priority. In a deeply personal speech at the Tory conference in Manchester, the PM told how his upbringing and family are at the heart of his values.
He was introduced on stage by wife Akshata Murty, who praised her “best friend” for “doing the right thing” even when it is hard.
Mr Sunak told his party that it is time for a change and “we are it”.
He said: “Today, we have made three huge decisions to change the direction of our country.
“We will give Britain the infrastructure it needs, protect the long-term future of our NHS and give us the tools to cut cancer deaths by a quarter.
“And we will create the best education system in the Western world to set our children up for the opportunities of the future.
“We will give the country what it so sorely needs, and yet too often has been denied – a Government prepared to make long-term decisions so that we can build a brighter future for everyone.
“Be in no doubt: it is time for a change. And we are it.”
READ MORE: Rishi Sunak announces plan to overhaul education for over 16s
Mr Sunak confirmed he was ditching the HS2 high speed rail link to Manchester from the Midlands as he gave his address.
He said “the facts have changed” as costs had “more than doubled”. He also announced a series of rail, road and bus investments that will help towns as well as major cities.
Sweeping education reforms include bringing together A-levels and T-levels (technical qualifications) to create a new “Advanced British Standard” which will see students covering more subjects.
Mr Sunak said boosting education was “the closest thing we have to a silver bullet” as it was “the best economic policy, the best social policy, the best moral policy”. The PM, a father of two young girls, also announced he will phase out smoking by raising the age to buy cigarettes by one year, every year, meaning a 14-year-old today will never legally be able to purchase them. He also promised measures to prevent an “epidemic” of vaping among children by “restricting the availability of vapes to our children, looking at flavours and disposable vapes”.
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Mr Sunak laid out the aspirational values that inspire his premiership, telling the Tory grassroots how his life would have been different if his grandparents had not left India and East Africa.
He said: “I owe our country everything. Never let anyone tell you this is a racist country. It is not. My story is a British story. A story about how a family can go from arriving here with little to Downing Street in three gener-ations.”
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan was moved to tears, right, as Mr Sunak described his Indian grandfather’s joy when he entered Parliament. Ms Keegan was seen wiping her eyes as the party leader recalled how his family expr-essed their pride on his election as an MP, before becoming the first British Asian PM.
Mr Sunak also accused Labour of talking down the country and highlighted how the UK’s economic recovery is one of the fastest among European nations.
He said: “Since leaving the single market, we’ve grown faster than France and Germany. Not despite Brexit, because of Brexit.”
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After 13 years of Conservative rule, Mr Sunak faces a tough task to turn around the opinion polls ahead of the next general election.
But he warned that Sir Keir Starmer “cannot be trusted” and set out his determination to stop Labour from seizing power.
The PM said: “Keir Starmer might want us to forget about his repeated support for Jeremy Corbyn, but we never will. You can never trust Labour with our country’s security.”
Mr Sunak warned that a vote for Labour would mean a Government that bowed to “vested interests”.
And he attacked the “virtue signalling” leaving the country hamstrung as he criticised a lack of “common sense” in the public sector.
He said: “It shouldn’t be controversial for parents to know what their children are being taught in school about relationships. Patients should know when hospitals are talking about men or women.
“And we shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t – a man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.”
Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands shared messages on social media showing that constituents were “loving” the speech.
He said: “The Prime Minister made major, long-term decisions to transform the UK for a brighter future. Decisions based not on short-term advantage, but on long-term success.
“Rishi Sunak has announced three big changes that will help to deliver a brighter future for the country.”
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