Rishi Sunak speech: PM vows ‘no ambiguity’ in speech but refuses to set out timescale for pledges

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The prime minister set out five key pleges for his government to focus on in 2023, which included cutting back NHS waiting times and curbing inflation

The prime minister is under pressure after failing to give a timescale for his government’s key pledges of 2023 - despite saying there was “no ambiguity” in the plans. Rishi Sunak made his first speech of 2023 with a detailed address in which he highlighted the areas his government would be focusing on over the next 12 months.

This included halving inflation, cutting NHS waiting times and cracking down on small boats crossing the Channel. He also vowed that his government would reduce national debt and grow the economy, describing all five of the new pledges the “people’s priorities”.

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In his speech, Sunak said: “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.”

However, the prime minister was unable to field questions over potential timescales for these issues being dealt with. Following the 25-minute speech, Sunak said that many factors in dealing with the pledges remained “out of my control”, adding that this meant he did “deliberately not put a specific month” on achieving the goals.

Rishi Sunak is feeling the pressure after failing to give a timeline for his five new promises to fix the “people’s priorities”. (Credit: Getty Images)Rishi Sunak is feeling the pressure after failing to give a timeline for his five new promises to fix the “people’s priorities”. (Credit: Getty Images)
Rishi Sunak is feeling the pressure after failing to give a timeline for his five new promises to fix the “people’s priorities”. (Credit: Getty Images) | POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Sunak ‘keen to deliver’ despite lack of ‘control’ over timeline

Speaking to reporters, Sunak said: “I’ve deliberately not put a specific month on each of them because I don’t think that’s responsible or the right thing to do with goals that are so complicated, where many of the forces that will impact our ability to hit them are out of my control as well.

“We’ve seen that over the past year or two. But what I am being very clear about is what I am prioritising, what I am keen to deliver for the country in terms that I think are easy to understand and unambiguous.

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“I fully expect the country to hold me and the government to account for how much effort we’re putting in to working on those priorities, which are their priorities.”

What’s Labour saying?

His ambiguity over the possible aim to get the issues dealt with had garned criticism from political opponents. Labour deputy leader Angela Raynor said: “That means that from housing and planning laws to closing tax avoidance loopholes, he can’t take the big decisions to put the country first. For weeks this speech was hyped up as his big vision – now he’s delivered it, the country is entitled to ask: is that it?”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is due to make his own speech on his priorities today (5 January).

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