'Why Should Anyone Believe You?': Rishi Sunak Monstered By Journalists At Tory Manifesto Launch

Rishi Sunak speaks at the Conservative Party's general election manifesto launch at Silverstone.
Rishi Sunak speaks at the Conservative Party's general election manifesto launch at Silverstone. Leon Neal via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak endured a torrid grilling from journalists as he launched the Tories’ underwhelming election manifesto.

The 76-page document only contained one major new policy - a plan to abolish National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.

The party has also vowed to cut another 2p off the overall rate of National Insurance, despite previous reductions doing nothing to improve their poll ratings.

But the prime minister risked a backlash from Tory right-wingers for refusing to commit to removing Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a clear sign that he expects to lose on July 4, Sunak begged voters not to hand Keir Starmer a “blank cheque” in government as he once again repeated his hotly-contested claim that Labour will put up taxes by £2,000 per household.

Although he got a warm reception from the Tory ministers and supporters gathered at Silverstone Grand Prix race track, the PM was monstered during a question and answer session with reporters.

ITV political editor Robert Peston said: “Tories in government since 2010 have been pushing up the tax burden to levels we haven’t seen since the late 1940s. Why should anyone believe you when you say you’re going to cut tax?”

BBC political editor Chris Mason told him: “For much of the last 18 months, you’ve tried everything to try and revive Conservative fortunes and not much appears to have worked.

“Could we rename this document as your last chance saloon? What is in this to shift things that perhaps haven’t shifted up until now?”

Sunak told him the country had “turned the corner” thanks to his leadership.

He said: “There is a clear choice at this election. We are the only party putting bold action on the table that will transform our country.

“Labour have nothing to say about the problems our country faces and how best to address them. Nothing. Keir Starmer is asking for a blank cheque and he will not tell people which taxes he is going to put up that are ultimately going to cost them £2,000.”

Ben Riley-Smith, political editor of the Daily Telegraph, asked the PM: “What do you say to those who say the manifesto isn’t ambitious enough and this won’t be a game-changer?”

Sky News political editor Beth Rigby said: “A recent poll shows only one in six voters thinks you won’t raise their taxes, compared with one in four for Labour.

“Labour’s more trusted on tax than you at the moment - that’s your record as chancellor and now prime minister. I’m sure that’s a disappointment to you.

“Haven’t you blown it now, whatever you say?”

But Sunak insisted he was “very proud” of his record as chancellor, pointing out that he had brought in the furlough scheme during the Covid pandemic.

He said: “We will always be there to protect this country through difficult times.”

Labour campaign chief Pat McFadden said: “This Conservative manifesto is a recipe for five more years of Tory chaos.

“After 14 years in power, the prime minister’s desperate manifesto is stuffed full of unfunded spending commitments. The prime minister that was brought in to be the antidote to the chaos of Liz Truss has instead become the next instalment of the same thing.”