7 of the most unimpressed reactions to Rishi Sunak's first big speech of 2023

7 of the most unimpressed reactions to Rishi Sunak's first big speech of 2023

Rishi Sunak's five promises as he sets out priorities for next two years


Prime minister Rishi Sunak delivered his first speech of the year on Wednesday, setting out five key priorities for his government to give the public some “peace of mind” amid crises to do with the NHS, small boat crossings and the economy.

Addressing an audience in east London, Mr Sunak promised to halve inflation, grow the economy and reduce debt – in a fresh bid to tackle the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and just months after his predecessor, Liz Truss, resigned over a disastrous mini-budget.

The final two pledges were to cut NHS waiting lists (a health service the PM loves so much he reportedly has a private GP) and stop the number of boats crossing the English Channel.

The Conservative Party leader and former chancellor said: “I guarantee that your priorities will be my priorities. I pledge that I will be honest about the challenges we face, and I will take the tough but necessary decisions to ensure our great country achieves its enormous potential.

“I will only promise what I can deliver, and I will deliver what I promise.”

Even before Mr Sunak took to the lectern, reports of his plans to have students learn maths until the age of 18 were widely criticised online.

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When the full speech was delivered, politicians, celebrities and more expressed further disappointment with the contents.

Comedian Sooz Kempner edited the PM onto footage of a burning hellscape, adding: “The PM Rishi Sunak reassures us all that everything is fine, actually.”

Juergen Maier, an Australian-British businessman and former head of Siemens, shared the five priorities and commented: “If a CEO presented this to his board, it would be thrown out. It is such a basic, bland and obvious list, that if delivered, keeps us in the lower quartile of high-performing nations.

“We deserve and are capable of so much better.”

Meanwhile, former Labour leader turned independent MP Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “If Rishi Sunak wanted to reform our education system, he would give teachers a decent pay rise, end the privatisation or our universities, and create a National Education Service to provide free lifelong learning for all.”

Understandably, Green MP Caroline Lucas took aim at Mr Sunak’s lack of focus on the climate crisis, writing: “Sunak’s talk of ‘optimism, hope and pride’ and ‘a better future for our children and grandchildren’ won’t make a jot of difference if he fails to even acknowledge so many elephants in the room – an NHS utterly underfunded and undervalued, a botched Brexit, and a climate in chaos.”

Internationalist campaign group Best for Britain chipped in: “The more I think about it, the more extraordinary it seems that our PM’s top five priorities include stopping a handful [of] desperate people crossing the Channel, but not climate, energy, education, social care, homelessness, childcare, science, or a single foreign policy objective.”

Peter Stefanovic, the lawyer and vlogger known for releasing fact-check videos on Conservative promises, branded the Tory leader’s speech an “absolute disgrace”.

“How is it even possible a room full of journalists could allow the prime minister to get away with this much bulls***,” he asked.

Heck, even celebrity mathematician Carol Vorderman wasn’t happy, attacking Mr Sunak’s numeracy plans by detailing what she called the “maths of privilege”.

On Thursday, it’ll be Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s turn to set out his party’s vision, with the Holborn and St Pancras MP set to tell an audience there’ll be a “decade of national renewal” if Labour enters government.

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