The Prime Minister promised “no tricks” and “no ambiguity” as he set out his five pledges for the year ahead but refused to give any timescale for each promise apart from inflation.
In his first major speech of 2023, Rishi Sunak vowed to deliver “peace of mind” to the public even as his Government grapples with an NHS under severe pressure and the ongoing disruption of strike action.
The PM pledged to halve inflation this year, grow the economy, make sure national debt is falling, cut NHS waiting lists and pass new laws to stop small boats.
He described the five promises as the “people’s priorities”, adding: “No tricks… no ambiguity… we’re either delivering for you or we’re not.
“We will rebuild trust in politics through action, or not at all. So, I ask you to judge us on the effort we put in and the results we achieve.”
As he answered questions from reporters after his 25-minute speech in east London, though, Mr Sunak refused to give any timescale for each of the promises.
He said he had “deliberately not put a specific month” on them and even admitted many factors “are out of my control”.
Mr Sunak said: “I’ve deliberately not put a specific month on each of them because I don’t think that’s responsible or the right thing to do with goals that are so complicated, where many of the forces that will impact our ability to hit them are out of my control as well.
“We’ve seen that over the past year or two. But what I am being very clear about is what I am prioritising, what I am keen to deliver for the country in terms that I think are easy to understand and unambiguous.
“I fully expect the country to hold me and the Government to account for how much effort we’re putting in to working on those priorities, which are their priorities.”
Responding to the speech, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner described Mr Sunak as the “do-nothing Prime Minister”, who is “too weak to stand up to his party or vested interests”.
She added: “That means that from housing and planning laws to closing tax avoidance loopholes, he can’t take the big decisions to put the country first.
“For weeks this speech was hyped up as his big vision – now he’s delivered it, the country is entitled to ask: is that it?”