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Rishi Sunak's Ambitious Vision: Transforming Britain with Railway Cuts and Smoking Ban

  • Posted on October 5, 2023
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  • By TSW NEWS DESK
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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, facing a skeptical public and doubts within his Conservative Party, delivered a speech at the annual conference in Manchester, vowing to "fundamentally change our country." Amid mounting concerns, Sunak outlined two striking initiatives - canceling a costly railway project and proposing a smoking ban for future generations.

Rishi Sunak's Ambitious Vision: Transforming Britain with Railway Cuts and Smoking Ban

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, facing a skeptical public and doubts within his Conservative Party, delivered a speech at the annual conference in Manchester, vowing to "fundamentally change our country." Amid mounting concerns, Sunak outlined two striking initiatives - canceling a costly railway project and proposing a smoking ban for future generations.

In an environment where the left-of-center Labour Party has enjoyed a 15 to 20-point lead in recent opinion polls, Sunak aimed to reassure party members and voters by emphasizing his willingness to make significant decisions for "long-term success" rather than short-term gains.

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Sunak's decision to curtail the embattled High Speed 2 (HS2) project, initially intended to connect London and Manchester, stemmed from a weakened economic case post-COVID. The project's estimated cost skyrocketed from £33 billion in 2011 to over £100 billion, leading to its truncation to Birmingham.

The move is expected to free £36 billion for new infrastructure projects in less affluent Midlands and North regions. However, critics, including Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, argued that it reflects poorly on Britain's ability to undertake substantial endeavors.

Business groups expressed concern as well, with Rain Newton-Smith, CEO of the Confederation of British Industry, suggesting it damages the UK's reputation as a global investment destination.

Sunak, striving for another term in power, presented a range of populist measures, including a gradual smoking ban and raising the legal age to buy cigarettes by one year annually. Health groups lauded the idea, reminiscent of New Zealand's approach, but some Conservatives criticized it as a "nanny state" concept.

Sunak promised Conservative lawmakers a free vote on the smoking ban, distancing himself from his political idol, Margaret Thatcher, who disdained such government intervention.

Sunak, who took office less than a year ago, used the occasion to reveal a more personal side. Introduced by his wife, Akshata Murty, he was described as "fun, thoughtful, compassionate," offering a glimpse into his character.

The conference, despite a subdued atmosphere, concluded on an upbeat note. Sunak's rivals are positioning themselves for a potential party leadership contest in the event of an election defeat.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman advocated for stricter migration controls and a stance against "woke" social values in her conference speech, while Sunak reiterated his commitment to "stop the boats" of migrants attempting to reach Britain across the English Channel.

He emphasized the UK's success as a multiethnic democracy, stating that being the first British Asian prime minister was not just a big deal. Overall, Sunak's speech left some delegates feeling confident and hopeful about the future.

 

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