Rishi Sunak's vision for Britain: From HS2 to smoking - the Prime Minister's major announcements in full

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has announced a bold vision for an overhaul of the UK's approach to Brexit, saying the 2016 vote was "a vote to change"

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 04/10/2023

- 12:23

Updated: 05/10/2023

- 09:41

The Prime Minister announced plans to curb HS2, ban smoking, and hinted he could pull Britain out of the ECHR

Rishi Sunak has announced a bold vision for the UK, outlining plans for rail, smoking and post-Brexit Britain.

He told the conference in Manchester that the UK's decision to leave the EU was a "statement of our belief that Britain could begin a new story".

WATCH: Rishi Sunak addresses Conservative Party Conference

The Prime Minister said: "We must keep making the case for taking back control because if we don’t our opponents will try and neuter this change - to align us with the European Union so that we never seize the full opportunities of Brexit."

He also hinted at leaving the European Convention on Human Rights saying the UK will do "whatever is necessary to stop the boats".

Hitting out at the Labour leader, Sunak said: "We know where Keir Starmer’s heart lies on this issue—and we know he can’t be trusted on it either.

"First, he said he’d respect the referendum result. Then he wanted a second referendum.

"Then he wanted free movement. Then he didn’t. He said he wouldn’t try and renegotiate our deal. Then he said he would.

"And then just two weeks ago he was caught on camera telling a meeting of international politicians that he now just wants to follow EU rules.

He added: "The irony isn’t lost on me. While we’re busy thinking about the future of the United Kingdom Keir Starmer’s just banging on about Europe. "

Rishi Sunak

Sunak used his speech to reflect on his first year in office


Sunak also used his conference speech to set out how he wants to change the political system.

He promised to end the 30 year old political status quo, saying: "Our political system is too focused on short term advantage, not long-term success.

"Politicians spent more time campaigning for change than actually delivering it.

"Our mission is to fundamentally change our country."

Sunak promised to "drive growth and change" across the UK by working on the UK's infrastructure.

He confirmed that the northern leg of HS2 will be scrapped, describing it as the "ultimate example of the old consensus."

Instead, he said the UK will reinvest the £36 billion pounds that was to be spent on the project on "hundreds of new transport projects in the North and the Midlands, and across the country".

Sunak added: "This means £36 billion of investment in the projects that will make a real difference across our country."

Praising the UK's decision to leave the EU, he said: "Since leaving the single market, we’ve grown faster than France and Germany. Not despite Brexit, because of Brexit."

He added: "The fact we control our own trade policy is why we can be the first European country to join the £11 trillion Pacific trade pact, linking us to the fastest growing region in the world and opening up new markets for our farmers and great British products.

"We have new free ports from the Firth of Forth to the Solent, ensuring the benefits of trade and investment are spread across our country.

"And thank you Kemi for cutting away Brussels red tape and saving small businesses a billion pounds a year."

Sunak also announced plans to stop the next generation from smoking by raising the smoking age every year.

Describing cigarettes as the "biggest cause of preventable death and disease in our country", he added: "I propose that in future we raise the smoking age by one year, every year.

"That means a 14-year-oldoday will never be legally sold a cigarette - and that they—and their generation—can grow up smoke-free."

The PM continued: "Smoking places huge pressures on the NHS and costs our country 17 billion pounds a year.

"We have a chance to cut cancer deaths by a quarter, significantly ease those pressures and protect our children, and we should take it."

Reflecting on his first 12 months as Prime Minister, Rishi said: "There is the undeniable sense that politics just doesn’t work the way it should.

"A feeling that Westminster is a broken system—and the same goes for Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont.

"It isn’t anger, it is an exhaustion with politics.

"In particular, politicians saying things, and then nothing ever changing.

"And you know what: people are right. Politics doesn’t work the way it should.

"We’ve had thirty years of a political system which incentivises the easy decision, not the right one.

"Thirty years of vested interests standing in the way of change."

The speech garnered positive reaction from within the party, with former Brexit Secretary David Davis saying there is "a lot to be pleased by in the Prime Minister's Conference speech."

Davis added: "He's right to be scrapping valueless degrees, boosting apprenticeships, and focusing on STEM education."


Meanwhile, Philip Davies told GB News he is "over the moon" with the Prime Minister’s speech.

He added: "His commitment to build a station stop in Bradford on a high-speed east-west rail link, and a Shipley bypass which I have campaigned for over many years is fantastic and will revolutionise our local economy.

"In contrast the Labour Party in Bradford would prefer the money to be spent on a high-speed train from Manchester to Birmingham.

"How on earth does that benefit Bradford. Labour are on the wrong side of this argument, and Rishi and the public know it."

Read more from GB News on the latest breaking news, developments, and unrivalled analysis at the Conservative Party Conference

You may like