Rishi Sunak gives update on ‘stop the boats’ pledge
Rishi Sunak made five promises to the British public in January in a bid to win back trust from voters after years of political turmoil under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
The Prime Minister vowed to cut inflation in half, grow the economy, reduce national debt, slash NHS waiting times, and stop small-boat crossings over the English Channel to curb migration.
With a general election looming in 2024, Mr Sunak will need to show progress in these areas to have a chance of overturning Labour’s solid lead in the polls and stop Sir Keir Starmer from walking into Downing Street.
So how has the Prime Minister done so far? We’ve broken down each pledge to find out what progress he’s made – so how do you think he’s done?
Rishi Sunak took over from Liz Truss as Prime Minister
On inflation, progress is being made. The figure eased to 8.7 percent in April, down from 10.1 percent in the year to March 2023.
The figure previously stood at 11.1 percent in October as energy prices soared in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which also caused a series of hikes in food prices.
Prices are expected to continue to fall this year and drop to around five percent by the end of 2023, so the Prime Minister can say that progress has been made in lowering inflation for Britons.
READ MORE: Conservatives ‘chipping away’ at Labour’s lead as poll gives Rishi Sunak hope
Grow the economy
While the UK has not entered a recession this year, growth remains slow. The Office for National Statistics revealed that Britain’s GDP grew by just 0.1 percent from January to March 2023.
The International Monetary Fund forecasts growth of 0.4 percent this year overall, which would place Britain behind many of its G7 partners such as the United States. It also means the UK economy remains smaller than it was before the pandemic.
Mr Sunak said he will “grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country”, but so far it appears progress has been slow.
Rishi Sunak recently announced a new deal with the UK on areas such as defence and energy
Borrowing spiked after the pandemic as the Government was forced to lend more money to support businesses and workers. In the Spring Budget in March, the Chancellor announced that public debt now stands at almost £2.5 trillion, or 98.9 percent of GDP.
Debt is predicted to fall in the next few years according to a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility, dropping to 94.8 percent of GDP by 2026.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has criticised the Government’s handling of debt and economic growth, calling Rishi Sunak’s team a “tired administration” which is “out of ideas” for how to tackle the issue.
Jeremy Hunt announced in March that he has a plan to lower UK national debt
Cut NHS waiting lists
The NHS is one of the biggest election issues right now, with nurses strikes adding fuel to the fire as the Government has struggled to find common ground with trade unions demanding better pay and working conditions.
British Medical Association data shows that waiting lists are still increasing. The figures, which include patients on a waiting list for treatment who would ordinarily have been seen by now, has risen to 7.42 million, up from 2.53 million in April 2010.
The Conservative Party is working on building 40 new hospitals by 2030 to help deal with the backlog, and Health Secretary Steve Barclay recently confirmed that these are on track to be completed on schedule.
Stop the boats
The Illegal Migration Bill is set to make it more difficult for those crossing on small boats to stay in the UK. The idea is to get the Rwanda scheme working, deporting arrivals to a safe third country to reduce the expense of hosting refugees and migrants in the UK.
The number of people crossing the Channel climbed by 42 percent in the last 12 months to March 2023, with 8,631 people making the hazardous journey in August.
However, the Government explained that the number of small boat arrivals from January to March 2023 (3,793) was 17 percent lower than in January to March 2022, indicating that progress has been made on the pledge.
Do you think Rishi Sunak has met his pledges? Have your say in the comments section below