British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tried to convince his party colleagues that he was the man who could fundamentally change the country. But the Prime Minister appears to have had little success in this regard, according to UK correspondent Leah van Beechoven. “Given that there is an election at the end of next year and the Conservatives themselves expect to lose it, the atmosphere has been completely paralyzed.”
Sunak presents himself as a ‘man for the long term’, and holds off on building a high-speed line
According to Van Beechoven, it was an important speech for Sunak to give at the Conservative Party conference, because the Prime Minister is not performing well in terms of popularity and elections are likely to be held at the end of next year. “Between the lines you can see that everything at this party conference reflects that.”
Long term man
Sunak presented himself at the party conference as the man for the long term, and also presented a long list of new long-term policy initiatives. “He wants voters to see him as a man who is out of control and a man of change,” Van Beechoven said.
Van Beechoven believes that this image may be difficult to reach in the minds of British voters. After all, Sunak represents a party that has been in power for thirteen years, and which voters are completely fed up with, according to opinion polls. “I think that’s why he wanted to show that he has the courage to make tough decisions.”
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Stopping the high-speed line between northern and southern England
According to Van Beechoven, the most difficult decision that Sunak is trying to portray himself as is stopping the construction of the HS2 high-speed line between the north and south of England, which has become a political symbol of the strengthening of the former industrial area in the north. England. One prime minister after another has promised that this line is necessary to give the north of the country economic space. But costs have gotten so out of control that Sunak believes he cannot justify pumping in tens of billions more.
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Van Beechoven believes that the result of this decision is that a large number of voters in the north of England will feel betrayed. They had voted for Boris Johnson in large numbers during the previous election in 2019, hoping that the Conservatives under his leadership would help breathe new economic life into the north of England, which also requires this high-speed line. “And now nothing will happen.”
Continuing speculation about Sunak’s succession
It is difficult to say to what extent Sunak still has control over his party. “Since there is an election at the end of next year and the conservatives themselves expect to lose it, the atmosphere has been somewhat paralyzed,” Van Bechoven said. “As if Sunak’s days are numbered.”
There is also ongoing speculation about who will succeed the Prime Minister if he loses in next year’s elections and what path the party will have to take. “So in this regard, it is as if this entire conference was held outside the control of the Prime Minister,” he added.
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