TCW was thrilled to be granted an interview with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. In a wide-ranging discussion encompassing many key issues, he reveals himself to be a consummate and caring politician.
TCW: Prime Minister, thank you for making time for this meeting. I can only imagine that with the economy, immigration, inflation, the NHS and education, your inbox must be overflowing.
PM: (Laughing) Yes, sometimes it seems a trifle daunting, but I am confident that we can make a real difference for society. To be Prime Minister is an absolute privilege and I intend to do my very best to help this country.
TCW: The NHS is always in the headlines – is it safe in the Conservatives’ hands?
PM: Let me be clear, I care passionately about the National Health Service and yield to no man in my admiration for the dedication of its staff. You can go anywhere in the world, from Albania to Zimbabwe, and you mention those three words and I can guarantee you will be met with a smile and a clapping of hands; such is its international renown.
TCW: Waiting lists are currently running at over six million. What plans are there to help in this area?
PM: Steve [Barclay, Health Secretary] is hard at work with a plan to make things a lot easier. Already we are seeing the first fruits of our investment. The extra £8billion has already seen a huge jump in vital front-line staff such as diversity and inclusivity officers alongside a massive growth in middle management. With fewer operations now being done and fewer people seen, I would like to think that we can get this waiting list up to 10million by 2025. We have a plan to achieve this that is both achievable and realistic.
TCW: Can I ask about education and your plans for improving pupils’ performance?
PM: This is an absolute priority for my government. The home schooling was borne out of necessity, but with children back in the classroom it is high time to pilot our new idea to improve grades. Across several regions, school authorities will be letting students mark their own exams. We feel this is a logical step forward and will result in a more focused and deliverable examination curriculum.
TCW: Despite promises to reduce immigration, this is still a contentious issue. How do you plan to deal effectively with this?
PM: No one is happy with the situation that we have now. People are risking their lives crossing in small and unsafe inflatables, and that must stop. As you know we have recently given France more money to tackle this head-on and we hope to see our French colleagues ensuring that more seaworthy vessels are used in future. There might even be the possibility of the French escorting vessels all the way to Dover thereby eliminating the need for the RNLI or Border Force to ‘get involved’. We also are planning to open some taxpayer-funded hostels in rural areas where migrants can be made welcome.
TCW: Inflation has now gone into double figures. What are you doing to tackle this and are there big-ticket items that can be mothballed?
PM: There is an unwritten rule that a Prime Minister does not criticise a predecessor, yet it would be correct to address the woeful incompetence of Liz Truss. It looked to one and all as if her understanding of economics was learned from a Janet and John book. Thank heavens that some serious international people and institutions such as President Biden and the IMF called out her unsustainable plans. With Jeremy Hunt now handling the UK’s finances we can look forward to calmer waters. Indeed, the tax burden is something we are rightly proud of – if we can get more lower-paid earners to pay higher tax, the better off we will all be. Fiscal prudence, low taxes and small government are still leitmotifs of the Conservatives.
TCW: Could HS2 be shelved?
PM: Absolutely not. This will come in on time and more importantly, on budget. Mark my words.
TCW: Will you have time to watch our boys in Qatar and how do you feel about human rights violations?
PM: I hope to get the odd moment when I can settle down and cheer our team on. They are fantastic and Gareth Southgate is a real credit. The fact that Fifa have made the wearing of the OneLove symbol all but impossible is a disgrace. I have heard however, that the junior assistant drinks carrier has the OneLove logo on the sole of their left boot, and this will send out a powerful message loud and clear to the world, that the UK will not tolerate intolerance. In pubs, living rooms, kitchens and front rooms up and down the country I sincerely hope that millions will be taking the knee prior to kick off – I know I will.
TCW: Thank you, Prime Minister.