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Rishi Sunak says he will oppose nationalism ‘with an argument that speaks to people’s hearts’

24 Aug 2022 3 minute read
Rishi Sunak during a hustings event in Cheltenham. Photo Ben Birchall PA Images

Rishi Sunak has promised to do more to oppose nationalism, and says that in his previous role as  chancellor he had started to “more actively demonstrate the benefit of the union in Scotland”.

The pledge comes with the new Chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, set to visit Edinburgh on Wednesday to emphasise the UK Government’s commitment to energy security and to reaffirm it’s commitment to help Scots with the rising cost of living.

Speaking at the latest Conservative Leadership hustings in Birmingham on Tuesday evening, Mr Sunak  said: “When it comes to arguing for the union, we have to remember nationalism is very seductive, it’s a romantic idea, and we have to fight that idea with an argument that speaks to people’s hearts.”

Earlier this month Mr Sunak’s camp floated plans to widen the “definition of extremism to include people who vilify the country,” which experts warned could criminalise supporters of Scottish and Welsh independence.

The former Chancellor also outlined plans to extend the UK Government’s operations into devolved areas if he is elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party.

Mr Sunak said he intends to reform the UK Government’s union unit, which was set up by Boris Johnson last year in an effort to avert the prospect of Scottish independence, and pledged to put an end to “the Whitehall mentality of devolve and forget”.

The reformed unit, the former chancellor said, will ensure “every single” government department operates UK-wide, despite key policy areas like education and health having been devolved to the governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Existential threat

Laying out his plans for Scotland if he were to become prime minister, Mr Sunak said his government would be the most active in Scotland in decades by sending ministers to there more regularly and claimed, “Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP pose an existential threat to our cherished union”.

Sunak’s leadership rival Liz Truss is widely expected to clinch her party’s nomination for leader and therefore be asked to become the next Prime Minister.

She has also pledged her commitment to uphold the United Kingdom as she hit out at politicians in the devolved administrations for playing “political games” rather than delivering for voters.

The Foreign Secretary said that if she succeeds in becoming Prime Minister, she would also take on the role of minister for the Union – a position created and held by Boris Johnson.

Ms Truss sparked controversy earlier this month by attacking Mark Drakeford and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She described the Welsh First Minister as a “low energy version of Jeremy Corbyn” just days after saying Ms Sturgeon was an “attention seeker” who is “best ignored”.

During a leadership hustings in Wales, Ms Truss said: “The fact is there are too many people in this country who are ashamed of our history, who talk our country down, who say the best days are behind us. They are completely wrong. I’m afraid one of them is Mark Drakeford.”

Her comments attacking Ms Sturgeon were seized on by the SNP leader who said it showed Ms Truss would ignore Scotland if she wins the race for the Tory crown in a ballot among party activists.


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 month ago

I mean….I can’t even….someone else tell him. I’m exhausted.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

‘Cheltenham’ we know a song about Cheltenham don’t we children…

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
1 month ago

first hurdle, there are a growing number of people who do not recognise the UK as a country, 2nd they need to do something with that flag, it represents a squalid past similar to the third reich swastika, 3rd this government union unit sounds a lot like the Venezuela reconstruction unit, that the foreign office was/is secretly running and if Zahawi has to go to Scotland to tell them he’ll be doing something, doesn’t that prove that the westminster cabal isn’t doing it now? And finally, the biggest hurdle these english nationalists don’t seem to understand is, we don’t care… Read more »

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

It is a relief to hear that Sunak is going to do some thing about nationalism. He needs to start by closing down the far right papers and the hate speech TV/Radio stations whose readers, viewers and listeners are indeed finding it very ‘seductive’ indeed and are lapping up the hatred they spew. These outlets and his party in government have turned the Union flag into a swat with which to beat the Celtic nations. Can he possibly be surprised that increasing amounts of us simply want to walk away quietly?

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
1 month ago

Ok I get that they are all for keeping the Union together but their methods are just too colonialist, too one dimensional and too controling. They just don’t know how to parler – it’s all, do what we want and do it now. A recipe for disaster

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Duggan
adopted cardi
adopted cardi
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

Well said,Steve. But the thing to work out carefully – and nobody says much about this – is the best way to pay for it all. It will need a lot of imagination. Politicians aren’t always the brightest on that front. And a coalition of minds. If Wales ever can make the break we’ll be needing a bit of outside help and encouragement from somewhere else. And we’d be swimming against some of the tides. Which is badly needed. Estonia did it in their own way, but had to prepare themselves for a few years of hard graft and struggle… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Ask him how he feels about Kashmir…

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

A Turk I knew in Finland was oh so liberal minded. I said the Kurds needed a homeland? He went nuts! They all have the blue touch paper somewhere, so well spotted, Mab!

Ann
Ann
1 month ago

So the nationalism which got us out of the EU was good, but the nationalism which extends devolution is bad!

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Sunak opposed to nationalism ? Well how does he square that with being well connected to the Indian version of BNP ? Boy is an openly racist/supremacist favouring certain groups within India and the jolly old Anglo Brit c-rap in Britain. Some merit in being more selective about allowing immigrants into the country. Ordinary honest people welcome, spivs with dodgy motives sent “home” even if they been here most of their lives. Or does that sit uncomfortably with our “welcoming” view of the world despite evidence that there is a proliferation of bad people here because of the open gates… Read more »

Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen
1 month ago

Where does one start? That is a bit rich from an English nationalistTory Brexit supporter

Alan Jones
Alan Jones
1 month ago

Says that nationalists have this romantic idea of nationalism then says he intends to “appeal to people’s hearts” to get his message across. If he & the rest of the fascist cabal look a bit more closely, while there is a semblance of romanticism connected with Welsh nationalism, more & more people are now starting to look & think with their heads at how independence can be costed & made to work in the long term. Yes Cymru are amongst others who have published documents over the last few years showing grown up financial workings out & the pathways required… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

Sunak wants to appeal to us, by undermining our democracy. He wants to extend Westminster ” operations ” into devolved areas. How is that democracy, when he will meddle in our affairs, when we have voted against him and his party, over and over again. That is what dictatorship is. He is not asking, he wants to rule by telling us what we get, like it or not, and as the voting shows, he has no right to do this. Who is the nationalist here. He wants to force us into being loyal little subjects, well he can burn for… Read more »

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

So how isn’t draping the Union Flag over anything & everything whilst singing Jerusalem England’s xenophobic tub-thumping empire anthem at every Conservative conference constitute nationalism, eh Rishy? Oh sorry, silly me. Rabid Rishy wants us all to be obidient British nationalists whilst promoting England & Englishness to the wider world.

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
DAI Ponty
DAI Ponty
1 month ago

Who the hell does he think he is his parents are from India who tried hard to be free of the British Empire or its real name English Empire with thousands killed when Mountbaten decide parts of the English to break the country and form Pakistan so what is wrong with the last regions of the English Empire to be free of the dam thing

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
1 month ago

“We will atack nationalism, by using fascism”. There, sorted it for you.

Mick Tems
Mick Tems
1 month ago

Keep it up, Rishi boy – until we shout for Cymru, freedom and independence!

George Atkinson
George Atkinson
1 month ago

That English twerp thinks he can make me turn my back on my one and only country. Think again ratface.

Richard
Richard
1 month ago

Is that the current ‘ nationalism ‘ of just Walea or perhaps India ? The BJP of the current Indian PM is hiding its religious and minority intolerance behind the shield of putting their nation first

Frank
Frank
1 month ago

England would become miniscule on the world stage without the other three nations.

Quornby
Quornby
1 month ago

Somehow I can’t imagine any of the English tory scum appealing to my heart.

Marc
Marc
1 month ago

Rishi Sunak aka Robbing Hood, says he will oppose nationalism while climbing a union flag staircase

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