UK PM Sunak insists Conservatives can stay in power

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak argues his policies have begun to solve the country’s problems.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak argues his policies have begun to solve the country’s problems.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has dismissed suggestions that his party is heading to defeat in the country’s general election, using one of his final televised appearances to defend the Conservatives’ record on the economy.

Sunak told the BBC ahead of the July 4 vote that he believed he would still be in power by the end of the week, despite opinion polls showing the Conservatives trailing far behind the opposition Labour Party of Keir Starmer.

“I’m fighting very hard,” Sunak said.

“And I think people are waking up to the real danger of what a Labour government means.”

While he acknowledged that the last few years “had been difficult for everyone,” Sunak declared it was “completely and utterly wrong” to suggest that the UK’s place in the world has diminished since Brexit.

“It’s entirely wrong, this kind of declinist narrative that people have of the UK I wholeheartedly reject,” he said.

“It (the UK) is a better place to live than it was in 2010.”

“People are queuing up to work with us because they respect what we do,” he said.

After 14 years of Conservative-led governments, many voters blame the party for the UK’s cost-of-living crisis, long waiting lists for health care, high levels of immigration and the dislocations caused by the country’s departure from the European Union.

Sunak, who became prime minister in October 2022, has tried to silence his critics by arguing that his policies have begun to solve those problems and warning that Starmer, the Labour leader, would raise taxes if his party wins the election.

Nigel Farage
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage says the last few days have been tough but he is not downhearted. (AP PHOTO)

Labour said Sunak’s remarks were “excruciating” and accused the prime minister of appearing to “gloss over the concerns of ordinary working people”.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage of the anti-establishment Reform UK party said his party was doing better than expected after a “tough” few days, as he addressed supporters at a rally.

Farage, one of the country’s most recognisable and divisive politicians, has been a thorn in the side for Sunak’s Conservative party.

A poll on June 27 showed Labour far ahead on 42 per cent, trailed by the Conservatives on 20 per cent and Reform on 16 per cent.

Farage, 60, told a crowd of more than 4500 people at the “Rally for Reform” event held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham that the last few days have been “tough” but he was not downhearted.

“We’re doing much better out there than anybody in the media, in politics, even dares to imagine in their worst nightmares. We are doing well,” Farage told his supporters.

The challenges of the last few days have included Reform UK being at the centre of a racism row, when one of its supporters was recorded making a racial slur about Sunak.

Farage told Sky News on Sunday: “Anybody who has a racist point of view I don’t want to know”.

A Reform UK candidate for a constituency in northern England, Liam Booth-Isherwood, said separately on Sunday he was disowning the party, citing reports of widespread racism and sexism and the failure of the party’s leadership to address such issues, according to a statement on the BBC.

Farage played a pivotal role in the UK’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union, and then in 2018 helped found the party which became known as Reform UK.

Its election pledges are to bring migration into the UK under control as well as cutting taxes for smaller businesses.

Given the overlap with some Conservative policies, there has been speculation in the UK media that Farage could seek to join forces with that party at some point in the future but speaking to Sky News on Sunday, Farage ruled that out.

“I want nothing to do with them. They’re awful … they are ghastly,” he said.

Running to become a UK MP for the eighth time after his previous attempts all failed, Farage’s Reform UK is unlikely to take more than a handful of seats even if it wins a substantial share of the total vote, due to the UK’s first-past-the-post electoral system.

with AP and PA

Reuters