Rishi Sunak pins his future on a triple policy splurge to wrongfoot Labour - analysis by Christopher Hope

Rishi Sunak pins his future on a triple policy splurge to wrongfoot Labour - analysis by Christopher Hope

WATCH NOW: Rishi Sunak announces an increase to defence spending

Christopher Hope

By Christopher Hope

Published: 24/04/2024

- 18:37

Updated: 25/04/2024

- 08:01

The Prime Minister unveiled measures to tackle sick note culture, kickstart deportations to Rwanda and increase defence spending

So, there is some fight left in him. Rishi Sunak has spent the past five days showing a bit of the political fight that he will need to get through what will be a gruelling general election campaign.

It has been a one, two, three punch triple whammy over three working days, starting with a major crackdown on the sick note culture last Friday, to the operational details of the Rwanda plan to tackle illegal migration on Monday and a huge hike in defence spending on Tuesday.

Rishi Sunak with an inset of Sir Keir Starmer

Rishi Sunak with an inset of Sir Keir Starmer


Labour already seem a little wrong footed by the triple policy assault which will all play well to the party's core supporters, from getting more people off benefits and into work to hiking spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030.

Much of the defence spending splurge comes from shedding civil service jobs to pre-pandemic levels, a choice which Labour will probably be reluctant to want to copy, given the party’s reliance on the support of the Public and Commercial Services union, inter alia.

Sunak even risked having his cake and eating it by saying in a Berlin press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz today that he could afford to cut taxes and increase defence spending. We will see about that.

SunakRishi Sunak updated the nation about his illegal immigration planGetty

For its part, Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey - who has done so much to restore his party's credibility in keeping the UK safe after the Jeremy Corbyn years - cannot commit to spending 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence as the policy hinges on the outcome of a defence review in the first year of office.

The attacks have started with Defence secretary Grant Shapps telling the Commons today that 11 members of Sir Keir Starmer's front bench had voted against keeping the nuclear deterrent under Corbyn.

It is interesting that one of the Tories' election attack lines will be on defence - just as Labour's Rachel Reeves attempts to derisk economic policy with her 'securonomics idea' about greater involvement of the state in UK plc.
Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak


Two different visions of life under the Tories and Labour after the election are emerging.

The timing of the one, two, three strategy is important for Sunak who faces a difficult week next week with the results of what could be difficult results in the local elections and the Mayoral elections.

I am drawing two conclusions: that the general election campaign has all but started; and Sunak is determined to be the man who leads the Tory into battle with Labour.

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