PMQs: Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer clash over nurses' strikes
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On Thursday, Keir Starmer will deliver his first big speech of 2023, just one day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set out his “five promises” to tackle Britain’s most serious problems. The Telegraph newspaper has reported that the speech is designed to set Labour apart from its position under former leader Jeremy Corbyn and show it is ready to govern if it wins the next election.
In his speech, Sir Keir will promise to end the “sticking plaster politics” of the Conservative Party and will also pledge to deliver a plan for “a decade of national renewal”.
The Labour leader will claim that a “short-term mindset” that dominated Westminster in recent years and will point to the Conservative’s current handling of the NHS as an example.
He will set out “a completely new way of governing” under Labour, which he will promise will be “driven by clear, measurable objectives”.
Sir Keir will also vow in his speech that Labour will not “get its big Government chequebook out again” if they are to win the next general election, which is expected to take place in 2024.
It has been reported that Sir Keir will say: “Let me be clear – none of this should be taken as code for Labour getting its big government chequebook out again.
“Of course, investment is required – I can see the damage the Tories have done to our public services as plainly as anyone. But we won’t be able to spend our way out of their mess. It’s not as easy as that.
“There is no substitute for a robust private sector, creating wealth in every community. A new approach to the power of government.
“More strategic. More relaxed about bringing in the expertise of public and private, business and union, town and city. Using that partnership to drive our country forward.”
The Leader of the Opposition is expected to say that Labour “will announce these missions in the coming weeks” and that they will be the “driving force of the next Labour Government”.
The Telegraph has reported that the message of Sir Keir’s speech has been written with the intention to reject the economic policies of his predecessor in Southside.
It may also appear somewhat different to the policies of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who increased spending and whose chief secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, wrote a note to his Conservative successor in which he said: “I’m afraid there is no money left.”
The note featured heavily in David Cameron’s 2015 general election campaign, which prompted Byrne to apologise for the note in an article for the Guardian.
He wrote: “‘The note’ was not just stupid. It was offensive. That’s why it has made so many people so angry. And that why it was so wrong to write.
“People’s anger – and my party’s anger – at me, will never ever match my anger with myself or my remorse at such a crass mistake. I made it easy for our opponents to bash our economic record by bashing me.”
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The Labour leader’s speech will come one day after Sunak gave a speech outlining the aims of his Government, which included tackling issues such as the NHS, crime, the welfare system, and immigration.
Nadine Dorries, the former Culture Secretary, criticised the Prime Minister’s speech and wrote: “Three years of a progressive Tory Government being washed down the drain. Levelling up, dumped. Social care reform dumped. Keeping young and vulnerable people safe online, watered down.
“A bonfire of EU legislation, not happening. Sale of C4, giving back £2 billion, reversed. Replaced with what? A policy at some time in the future to teach maths for longer with teachers we don’t yet even have to do so. Where is the mandate- who voted for this?”
Sir Keir’s speech has also drawn criticism from Nadhim Zahawi, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, who has accused Labour of “failing to set out a positive, detailed, long-term plan to secure the future prosperity of Britain”.
Zahawi said: “Every week [Sir Keir] changes his position depending on what he thinks is popular – from supporting free movement to supporting the unions, he’ll say anything if the politics suits him.
“He should stop giving cliché-laden speeches, and instead finally unveil a plan for people’s priorities. He’s got nothing to say on how to cut crime, get immigration down, and reduce borrowing – that’s what the nation wants to see.”
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