Rishi Sunak takes a day off amid record-breaking exodus of Tory MPs – UK politics live | Politics

Sunak retreats from campaign trail after hapless start

Kiran Stacey

Rishi Sunak will retreat from the campaign trail today, spending the day at home in his constituency and in London after a difficult first few days of the general election campaign.

Three sources have said the prime minister is taking the unusual step of a day away from public events on the first Saturday of the campaign and instead will spend it in discussion with his closest advisers.

Conservatives aides said the move was not part of an attempt to reset his campaign after a first week plagued by missteps and high-level resignation announcements.

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is in contrast planning to use the day at public events designed to focus on his argument that the Conservatives have damaged the economy and raised living costs. He is understood not to be planning any days off the campaign trail for the next six weeks before polling day.

Sunak’s decision to take a day away from public campaigning comes after an error-strewn start to the campaign for the prime minister.

He began by announcing the election in the pouring rain to the booming sounds of the 1997 Labour anthem Things Can Only Get Better, played by a nearby protester.

He then attended a public question-and-answer session at a factory at which it was revealed that two of the questioners were Tory councillors, before asking workers in Wales whether they were looking forward to the Euro 2024 football tournament, for which Wales has not qualified.

On Friday, the prime minister travelled to Belfast where he visited the Titanic Quarter and was asked by a journalist whether he was captaining a sinking ship.

Share

Key events

Saturday’s campaigning is expected to centre on the economy, with Keir Starmer focusing on the cost-of-living crisis and Jeremy Hunt signalling support for tax breaks for high earners.

The chancellor indicated the Conservatives would seek to end the impact of tapering of personal allowances on larger incomes, were they to be reelected, while his opposite number Rachel Reeves vowed to deliver financial stability with a Thatcher-style commitment to “sound money”.

Workers lose £1 of their tax-free personal allowance for every £2 their earnings rise above £100,000, and anyone on more than £125,140 gets no allowance.

Hunt used an interview with the Daily Telegraph to dangle the prospect of a change to the current system.

If you look at the distortions in the tax system between £50,000 and £125,000, they are bad economically because they disincentivise people from doing what we need, which is to work, work harder. And we are the party of hard work.

He explicitly confirmed a Tory government would aim to correct these “distortions” within five years.

Hunt also branded inheritance tax “profoundly anti-Conservative”, but refused to be drawn on whether cuts to death duties would feature in the party manifesto.

Rachel Reeves will meet with supermarket workers in London to talk about the cost-of-living crisis; seeking to attack the Conservative record on the economy as she pitches Labour as the party of “stability and tough spending.” In an article on the front page of the Daily Mail, Reeves said:

Back in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher proclaimed that the Conservatives were the party of sound money. But three decades on from when she left office, it was the Conservatives who crashed the economy, put pensions in peril and sent the average monthly mortgage repayments up by £240 a month.

I will never play fast and loose with your money… I believe in sound money and public spending that is kept under control.

Reeves appeared to hint she may eventually be able to cut taxes “for working people” under a Labour government, saying saying she supports reductions when there is “a plan to pay for it”.

Share

Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom to stand down at general election

Peter Walker

Peter Walker

Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom have joined the now record-breaking exodus of Conservative MPs from the Commons, with the former saying it was time for a “new generation” to lead the party.

Gove’s announcement in a letter tweeted on Friday evening had been anticipated by some given the strong Liberal Democrat challenge he faces in his Surrey Heath constituency, but adds to the sense of Tories fleeing in the face of a likely general election loss.

Leadsom released her own letter shortly after, writing to Sunak: “After careful reflection, I have decided not to stand as a candidate in the forthcoming election.”

It puts the total number of sitting Tories saying they will not stand again at 78, beating the previous record of 72 from 1997.

Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove. Photograph: Reuters

An MP since 2005, Gove has been central to Tory fortunes ever since. The levelling up secretary had previously served as education secretary, justice secretary, environment secretary and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

In his letter, Gove wrote that he knew “the toll office can take, as do those closest to me … No one in politics is a conscript. We are volunteers who willingly choose our fate. And the chance to serve is wonderful. But there comes a moment when you know that it is time to leave. That a new generation should lead.

Leadsom reached the final two of the 2016 Conservative leadership contest to replace David Cameron, but withdrew, putting Theresa May in No 10.

Share

Kiran Stacey

Conservative jitters about the campaign were distilled on Friday afternoon in a searing article by Fraser Nelson, the editor of the right-leaning magazine the Spectator, in which he argued Sunak was making a mistake by trying to make himself the sole focus of the campaign.

“A popular leader may run a personal campaign, but Sunak’s approval ratings are worse than almost any prime minister in postwar history,” Nelson wrote in the Telegraph.

A Conservative source called the idea that Sunak was hoping to reset his campaign “ridiculous”. But another campaign operative added: “Prime ministers don’t normally spend the first weekend of the campaign at home talking to their advisers.”

A Conservative spokesperson did not respond to a request to comment.

Share

Sunak retreats from campaign trail after hapless start

Kiran Stacey

Rishi Sunak will retreat from the campaign trail today, spending the day at home in his constituency and in London after a difficult first few days of the general election campaign.

Three sources have said the prime minister is taking the unusual step of a day away from public events on the first Saturday of the campaign and instead will spend it in discussion with his closest advisers.

Conservatives aides said the move was not part of an attempt to reset his campaign after a first week plagued by missteps and high-level resignation announcements.

Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is in contrast planning to use the day at public events designed to focus on his argument that the Conservatives have damaged the economy and raised living costs. He is understood not to be planning any days off the campaign trail for the next six weeks before polling day.

Sunak’s decision to take a day away from public campaigning comes after an error-strewn start to the campaign for the prime minister.

He began by announcing the election in the pouring rain to the booming sounds of the 1997 Labour anthem Things Can Only Get Better, played by a nearby protester.

He then attended a public question-and-answer session at a factory at which it was revealed that two of the questioners were Tory councillors, before asking workers in Wales whether they were looking forward to the Euro 2024 football tournament, for which Wales has not qualified.

On Friday, the prime minister travelled to Belfast where he visited the Titanic Quarter and was asked by a journalist whether he was captaining a sinking ship.

Share

Good morning

Just three days after kickstarting a six-week general election campaign, Rishi Siunak is taking a day off.

Three sources have told the Guardian the prime minister is taking the unusual step of a day away from public events and instead will spend it in discussion with his closest advisers.

The news comes as Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom joined the now record-breaking exodus of Conservative MPs from the Commons, with the former saying it was time for a “new generation” to lead the party.

Stick with us throughout the day and we’ll bring you the latest political news from around the UK.

Share

Leave a Comment