PM says UK must ‘look forward with pride and optimism’ to 2024 as election looms
Rishi Sunak has said the UK should “look forward with pride and optimism” to 2024 in a message to the nation ahead of an election year.
The Prime Minister urged the public to focus on the promise of a “brighter future” as he highlighted an upcoming cut to national insurance as an example of change under his leadership.
Mr Sunak will call a general election in 2024, with the Tories battling to hold on to power as opinion polls suggest a healthy Labour lead.
In his New Year’s message, he said his “resolution” would be to “keep driving forward”.
Describing 2023 as a “momentous year,” he said: “Inflation is set to fall further, cutting the cost of living for everyone. And we’re not stopping there.
“We’re going further to grow our economy by reducing debt, cutting taxes, and rewarding hard work, building secure supplies of energy here at home, backing British business and delivering world class education.
“And we’re taking decisive action to stop the boats and break the business model of the criminal gangs.”
Dealt a blow
The PM has met his pledge to halve inflation this year, but another key priority, to grow the economy, was dealt a blow earlier this month by figures showing GDP fell between July and September.
And his promise to stop small boat crossings in the Channel remains under threat as the Government’s flagship Rwanda asylum policy continues to face legal and political jeopardy.
Mr Sunak’s focus on tax-cutting in his New Year message comes after the Government announced the main rate of national insurance will be cut to 10% from January 6, and amid speculation that the Tories could make more attention-grabbing pledges in the spring budget.
Reports suggest death duties or income tax could possibly be slashed as Mr Sunak tries to turn around his party’s major deficit in the polls and create policy dividing lines with Labour.
The Prime Minister thanked “our incredible armed forces and NHS staff who take care of us all”.
The message comes between strikes by junior doctors in England, with the longest walkout in NHS history due to begin on January 3.
He ended by saying: “We should look forward full of pride and optimism for what we can do together to build a brighter future for everyone.
“That’s what I’m determined to do, and I wish you all a very happy 2024.”
Fuel of change
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will use his address to make an election-oriented message, framing 2024 as the year to “give Britain its future back” – a party campaign slogan.
He will say it has also been “another tough year economically for millions of people” but that hope “is the fuel of change” and “the oxygen of a better future.”
Sir Keir, who enters the new year with his party holding a sustained poll lead over the Conservatives, will promise Labour would “renew our politics so it once again serves our country.”
In a video message due to be released on Sunday, he is expected to say: “This year, in Britain, the power to shape the future of our country will rest in your hands.
“In the Labour Party we’ve been building to this for four years.
“We’re confident we have a plan that can move our country forward.”
Sir Keir will add: “I know that politics isn’t held in particularly high regard in Britain.
“But I have spent four years bringing the Labour Party back to service, and in 2024, we can do the same for politics.
“So wherever you are, however you are celebrating: Happy New Year.
“Let’s make sure this is the year where together we get Britain’s future back.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey will centre his New Year message on an appeal to “transform the nature of British politics for good” and renew a long-held party call for electoral reform.
In a video message, he is expected to say that “neither the Conservatives or Labour are capable of tackling” the “big, deep-rooted challenges in our country” because neither will change the “broken political system” that underpins them.
Sir Ed will say: “We must do nothing less than transform the nature of British politics for good.
“Fight for a fair deal, that empowers everyone, and holds the already powerful to account.
“Smash the two-party system, reform our elections, and give everyone an equal voice, because that is the only way we can build a fairer, greener, more caring country.”
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