Sunak suggests next five years will be ‘some of most dangerous’ in UK history and he’s best leader to keep people safe – politics live | Politics

Sunak suggests next five years will be ‘some of most dangerous’ in UK history and he’s best leader to keep people safe

Good morning. Rishi Sunak has made various attempts to define what he stands for, in a way that would frame the choice at the next election to his advantage, and this morning we’ll get another version. When he became Tory leader; he was the antidote to Liz Truss; competence and fiscal responsibility. For a while last year he was the motorists’ champion and net zero realist. He has dabbled a bit with being anti-woke. Last autumn, for several weeks, he made a sustained and serious attempt to claim he would be the change candidate at the election (a move that failed because it was wholly implausible). More recently he has been the person “sticking to the plan”. And today he is going to present himself as the leader best able to keep people “safe and secure” in a dangerous world.

Downing Street released some extracts from the speech overnight and Kiran Stacey has written up the briefing here.

And here is the key passage from the advance briefing. Sunak will say:

I have bold ideas that can change our society for the better, and restore people’s confidence and pride in our country.

I feel a profound sense of urgency. Because more will change in the next five years than in the last thirty.

I’m convinced that the next few years will be some of the most dangerous yet most transformational our country has ever known.

According to the briefing, Sunak will say that war, a global rise in immigration, threats to “shared values and identities” and new technologies like artificial intelligence are what makes the future so threatening.

One problem is that is his “next five years” theory sounds questionable. Thirty years ago the internet barely had an impact on everyday life and a mobile phone was the size of a brick (and about as intelligent). Another difficulty is that Sunak is leading his party into an election, people like positivity, and his analysis all sounds rather gloomy. According to the advance briefing, Sunak will address this by saying that “we’re a nation of optimists” and that he can offer people a more secure future.

Sunak is not the first Tory to frame the election in these terms. Only last week David Cameron, the foreign secretary and former PM, said keeping people safe would be “on the ballot paper” and that “security to me is the most conservative value of all”.

But if security is the essay question, is the Conservative party the answer? Not according to opinion polls. Last month Lord Ashcroft, the former Tory deputy chair who now runs a respected polling operation, published figures saying that the voters trust Labour more than the Conservatives on all key issues, including defence.

Labour responded overnight with a statement from Pat McFadden, the party’s national campaign coordinator saying, in effect, that it does not really matter what Sunak claims because his party’s record is so poor. McFadden said:

Nothing the prime minister says will change the fact that over the past fourteen years the Conservatives have brought costly chaos to the country, with this being the only parliament in living memory where people’s standard of living will be lower at the end of it than the beginning.

The Tories crashed the economy by using the country for a giant and reckless economic experiment, for which the British people are still paying the price.

Even as the prime minister speaks, others in his party are positioning themselves to replace him.

The only way to stop the chaos, turn the page and start to renew is with a change of government.

The Conservatives can’t fix the country’s problems because they are the problem. Another five years of them would not change anything for the better.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: Anas Sarwar, the Scotish Labour leader, gives a speech on Labour’s plans to reset devolution.

10am: Esther McVey, the Cabinet Office minister, gives a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank on “putting common sense at the heart of govenment”.

11am: Rishi Sunak delivers his speech in London at the Policy Exchange thinktank.

2.30pm: Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

3.45pm: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

Also, Keir Starmer is holding a meeting today with Labour’s elected mayors. He will be asking them to work with him on proposals for local growth plans.

For technical reasons we are not using the ‘send us a message’ feature any more, and if you want to contact me, please post a message below the line (BTL) or message me on X (Twitter). I can’t read all the messages BTL, but if you put “Andrew” in a message aimed at me, I am more likely to see it because I search for posts containing that word. If you want to flag something up urgently, it is best to use X; I’ll see something addressed to @AndrewSparrow very quickly. I find it very helpful when readers point out mistakes, even minor typos (no error is to small to correct). And I find your questions very interesting too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either BTL or sometimes in the blog.

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Key events

Nadhim Zahawi named chair of Very Group after saying he’s quitting as MP at election

The former UK chancellor Nadhim Zahawi is to become chair of Very Group, the online retailer owned by the billionaire Barclay family, days after announcing that he would step down as a Conservative MP at the next general election. Jasper Jolly has the story.

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Minister apologises to women affected by birth trauma after UK inquiry

Maria Caulfield, the health minister, was speaking to broadcasters this morning to respond to a report from the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on birth trauma. It says that while for many women giving birth is a positive experience, for around a third of them it is traumatic. And it cites evidence saying to that 4 to 5% of women develop post-traumatic stress disorder every year after giving birth, which amounts to around 30,000 women.

As Kevin Rawlinson reports, in her interviews Caulfield apologised to women affected by birth trauma and claimed that the government was already addressing many of the points raised by the APPG.

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Maria Caulfield, the health minister, was doing a morning interview round this earlier. Asked about the allegations about Natalie Elphicke published in the Sunday Times (see 1.17am), she said there “probably” should be an investigation but that it was for Labour to carry this out.

Asked why Robert Buckland had not told anyone earlier about his meeting with Elphicke, she told Times Radio:

I don’t know the details of that meeting, you would have to ask Robert Buckland about that, but this is now something that the Labour party would have to investigate.

They’ve been busy playing political games about who sits on which benches. We’ve been busy getting on with running the country.

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Labour Chris Bryant suggests Buckland should face standards inquiry for covering up Elphicke’s alleged lobbying bid

Yesterday the Sunday Times splashed on a story that implied the Conservative party was out to extract maximum revenge on Natalie Elphicke following her defection to Labour.

In a story that quoted Robert Buckland, the former justice secretary, the paper claimed that, just before her then husband was about to go on trial for sexual assault in July 2020, Natalie Elphicke lobbied Buckland to try to get the case heard by an alternative judge. Elphicke has not denied the story, although she has said she does not accept the “characterisation” of the meeting given by the Sunday Times (ie, that she was trying to get Buckland to ensure her husband was treated more leniently).

At first sight, this looked like a problem for Labour. Trying to interfer with a judicial process is a serious matter, and can be a criminal offence, and Labour’s newest recruit has questions to anwer.

But, if this was an intentional hit job by CCHQ, then it may have backfired, for reasons explained last night in a post on X by the Secret Barrister, the pseudonym used by a barrister who has written a series of highly-praised exposés of how the law operates.

The biggest story today is that the then-Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice was a direct witness to a criminal attempt to pervert the course of justice, and covered it up for four years because it involved one of his political allies. pic.twitter.com/ExtieF2XA5

— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) May 12, 2024

The biggest story today is that the then-Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice was a direct witness to a criminal attempt to pervert the course of justice, and covered it up for four years because it involved one of his political allies.

And today the Labour party is running with this line. Chris Bryant, the shadow minister for creative industries, was on Sky News this morning. He was chair of the Commons standards committee when it published a report criticising Elphicke and four other Tory MPs for interfering with a judicial decision after Charlie Elphicke’s conviction (relating to the publication of character references) and Bryant told Sky News this morning that Buckland should have disclosed at that point what he knew about Elphicke’s history of lobbying the judiciary on behalf of her husband.

Bryant suggested that it was Buckland who should be investigated, not Elphicke. He explained:

He said:

When we were doing that investigation, I would have thought that if what Robert Buckland has said today, namely that he says that she lobbied him, if that is true, he should have told our committee.

So if anybody should be being investigated by the parliamentary commissioner for standards – and he’s perfectly independent, it’s up to him to decide – frankly, it should be Robert Buckland.

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Here is my colleague Gaby Hinsliff’s snap reaction to Rishi Sunak’s argument this morning.

I think Sunak’s right these are unusually dangerous times but it begs the question ‘so why did you make Grant Shapps defence sec then’ & that’s been the problem for years now: internal politics trumping operational effectiveness pic.twitter.com/jLWkwrIgfM

— gabyhinsliff (@gabyhinsliff) May 13, 2024

I think Sunak’s right these are unusually dangerous times but it begs the question ‘so why did you make Grant Shapps defence sec then’ & that’s been the problem for years now: internal politics trumping operational effectiveness

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The No 10 advance briefing on the PM’s speech “landed well” (in spin jargon) in the pro-Tory papers.

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Sunak suggests next five years will be ‘some of most dangerous’ in UK history and he’s best leader to keep people safe

Good morning. Rishi Sunak has made various attempts to define what he stands for, in a way that would frame the choice at the next election to his advantage, and this morning we’ll get another version. When he became Tory leader; he was the antidote to Liz Truss; competence and fiscal responsibility. For a while last year he was the motorists’ champion and net zero realist. He has dabbled a bit with being anti-woke. Last autumn, for several weeks, he made a sustained and serious attempt to claim he would be the change candidate at the election (a move that failed because it was wholly implausible). More recently he has been the person “sticking to the plan”. And today he is going to present himself as the leader best able to keep people “safe and secure” in a dangerous world.

Downing Street released some extracts from the speech overnight and Kiran Stacey has written up the briefing here.

And here is the key passage from the advance briefing. Sunak will say:

I have bold ideas that can change our society for the better, and restore people’s confidence and pride in our country.

I feel a profound sense of urgency. Because more will change in the next five years than in the last thirty.

I’m convinced that the next few years will be some of the most dangerous yet most transformational our country has ever known.

According to the briefing, Sunak will say that war, a global rise in immigration, threats to “shared values and identities” and new technologies like artificial intelligence are what makes the future so threatening.

One problem is that is his “next five years” theory sounds questionable. Thirty years ago the internet barely had an impact on everyday life and a mobile phone was the size of a brick (and about as intelligent). Another difficulty is that Sunak is leading his party into an election, people like positivity, and his analysis all sounds rather gloomy. According to the advance briefing, Sunak will address this by saying that “we’re a nation of optimists” and that he can offer people a more secure future.

Sunak is not the first Tory to frame the election in these terms. Only last week David Cameron, the foreign secretary and former PM, said keeping people safe would be “on the ballot paper” and that “security to me is the most conservative value of all”.

But if security is the essay question, is the Conservative party the answer? Not according to opinion polls. Last month Lord Ashcroft, the former Tory deputy chair who now runs a respected polling operation, published figures saying that the voters trust Labour more than the Conservatives on all key issues, including defence.

Labour responded overnight with a statement from Pat McFadden, the party’s national campaign coordinator saying, in effect, that it does not really matter what Sunak claims because his party’s record is so poor. McFadden said:

Nothing the prime minister says will change the fact that over the past fourteen years the Conservatives have brought costly chaos to the country, with this being the only parliament in living memory where people’s standard of living will be lower at the end of it than the beginning.

The Tories crashed the economy by using the country for a giant and reckless economic experiment, for which the British people are still paying the price.

Even as the prime minister speaks, others in his party are positioning themselves to replace him.

The only way to stop the chaos, turn the page and start to renew is with a change of government.

The Conservatives can’t fix the country’s problems because they are the problem. Another five years of them would not change anything for the better.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10am: Anas Sarwar, the Scotish Labour leader, gives a speech on Labour’s plans to reset devolution.

10am: Esther McVey, the Cabinet Office minister, gives a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank on “putting common sense at the heart of govenment”.

11am: Rishi Sunak delivers his speech in London at the Policy Exchange thinktank.

2.30pm: Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

3.45pm: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

Also, Keir Starmer is holding a meeting today with Labour’s elected mayors. He will be asking them to work with him on proposals for local growth plans.

For technical reasons we are not using the ‘send us a message’ feature any more, and if you want to contact me, please post a message below the line (BTL) or message me on X (Twitter). I can’t read all the messages BTL, but if you put “Andrew” in a message aimed at me, I am more likely to see it because I search for posts containing that word. If you want to flag something up urgently, it is best to use X; I’ll see something addressed to @AndrewSparrow very quickly. I find it very helpful when readers point out mistakes, even minor typos (no error is to small to correct). And I find your questions very interesting too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either BTL or sometimes in the blog.

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