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Politics Explained

What does Rishi Sunak’s burst of activity tell us about his general election plans?

As the Tories face a bloodbath at upcoming local elections, the PM is desperate to get his backbenchers onboard, writes Andrew Grice

Monday 22 April 2024 20:13
Does the prime minister’s sudden renewal of energy give us hints about a poll date?
Does the prime minister’s sudden renewal of energy give us hints about a poll date? (Reuters)

Rishi Sunak has launched a campaign to shore up the Conservative vote in next week’s local elections and his own position among his fractious backbenchers. The prime minister’s allies claim he is “setting the agenda” rather than reacting to unfavourable events as he begins the “long campaign” ahead of the general election.

Last Friday, Sunak made a speech on welfare reform, outlining plans to end what he called Britain’s “sick note culture”. On Monday, he held a rare Downing Street press conference as the bill allowing the government to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda reached the final stages of its parliamentary passage.

Over the next two days, he will be in Poland and Germany, highlighting the UK’s support for Ukraine and may make announcements about defence policy following growing demands from Tory MPs for him to boost the defence budget in a volatile world.

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