With Britain’s health system and its economy both in acute distress, Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, delivered in a sweeping speech a series of promises to restore the country to prosperity and well-being, challenging Britons to hold him personally to account. “No tricks, no ambiguity,” he said. “We’re either delivering for you or we’re not.”
Sunak made five promises: to cut inflation in half, to reignite the economy and to reduce waiting times in emergency rooms, as well as to cut public debt and to stop the flow of migrant boats across the English Channel. But some of the most pressing problems, like an overwhelmed health system, defy easy solutions and may not be solved simply by more funding.
Budget strains and a cost-of-living crisis have prompted widespread labor unrest, with nurses walking off hospital wards and railway workers shutting down trains. The government is expected to announce new anti-strike legislation, but Sunak conceded the difficulty of making deals with a number of unions, even though polls show that Britons generally support the workers.
The British economy is also likely to deteriorate further before it bottoms out and begins to recover. Sunak acknowledged that sobering reality, noting that many Britons were looking ahead to 2023 with “apprehension.”
The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, is scheduled to make a speech on his agenda today. Labour has a polling lead of more than 20 percentage points over the Conservatives.