Politics

What will Rishi Sunak do as prime minister? Here’s what we know

Rishi Sunak has been announced as the next prime minister, but hasn't said anything publicly about his plans. So here's what he's said previously

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his Spring Statement in the House of Commons

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivers his Spring Statement in the House of Commons. Image: Parliament TV

Rishi Sunak has won the race to succeed Liz Truss as leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister.

But there has been little scrutiny of candidates this time round, with no interviews or detailed policy proposals.

So what will prime minister Rishi Sunak look like? Given he’s said nothing publicly, we can only go on what he said during his leadership campaign over the summer. So here’s what he said he’d do then. 

Cut income tax

Sunak promised to cut income tax to 17p in the pound by the next parliament during his last attempt to become leader.

This was criticised as a measure that “does nothing for low-income households”.

But it’s worth noting that Liz Truss was forced to abandon her own cut to income tax – abolishing the top rate of tax.

Impose a temporary cut on VAT on fuel bills

This would save the typical consumer £154 a year, and experts warned it would benefit those who used the most energy, rather than households struggling to pay their bills.

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Fine people for missing GP appointments

In a bid to cut NHS backlogs, Sunak wanted to impose £10 fines on those who missed GP appointments.

“If they’re not being used, then that’s a waste,” Sunak said.

“So if we can change that, then we basically get more out of the money that we’re putting in today. It’s a good example of a Conservative approach to that problem.”

But the BMA warned that this would “ultimately threaten the fundamental principle that the NHS delivers free care at the point of need for all”

Continue the government’s Rwanda deportation scheme

While the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is on hold pending the outcome of a court case, Sunak has previously pledged to continue it.

“I will do whatever it takes to make the Rwanda plan work,” he said.

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Bring back grammar schools

Sunak confirmed he would bring back grammar schools during a hustings in July.

There are currently 163 state-funded grammar schools in England, with big clusters in Kent and Lincolnshire.

“I believe in educational excellence, I believe education is the most powerful way we can transform people’s lives. But I also think there’s lots we can do with the school system as we have it,” he said.

Stay on track for net zero by 2050

In contrast to Liz Truss’s programme of an expansion in fracking and promises to get “every last drop” of oil and gas out of the North Sea, Sunak pledged to commit to net zero 2050 – the only leadership candidate to fully get behind it.

He also expressed a wish to beef up wind energy as part of an attempt to become more self-sufficient.

“I am committed to Net Zero by 2050, but that can’t mean neglecting our energy security,” Sunak said.

He boasted about taking money from ‘deprived urban areas’

Another glimpse into Sunak’s policy preferences is some unearthed comments made to Conservative party members. He boasted of undoing funding formulas that “shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas”.

In a leaked video, Sunak told members in Tory safe seat Tunbridge Wells in July: “I managed to start changing the funding formulas to make sure areas like this are getting the funding they deserved.

“We inherited a bunch of formulas from Labour that shoved all the funding into deprived urban areas and that needed to be undone. I started the work of undoing that.”

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