How Is Rishi Sunak Doing On Those 5 Key Pledges He Made To Voters?

The prime minister set out the promises shortly after entering No.10.
Pool via Getty Images

Barely two months after becoming prime minister, Rishi Sunak made five promises to voters on which he wanted to be judged.

“No tricks, no ambiguity - we’re either delivering for you or we’re not,” the PM declared.

Sunak vowed to halve inflation, grow the economy, cut national debt, reduce NHS waiting lists and stop the small boats carrying asylum seekers across the Channel from France.

More than a year on and with the general election just months away, HuffPost UK assesses what progress the prime minister has made towards keeping his promises.

Halve Inflation

An unqualified success.

When Sunak made his promise, inflation stood at around 11% as energy and food prices continued to soar.

He hit his target before the end of last year, and figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics confirmed that it remains at 4%.

And while that is still double the Bank of England’s own target of 2%, economists expect it to fall sharply in the months ahead.

Grow The Economy

The prime minister was dealt a hammer blow this morning with confirmation that the UK is now officially in recession.

Far from growing the economy, Sunak has overseen a shrinking in gross domestic product (GDP).

The grim news came just a day after the PM told a Downing Street summit that the economy was “pointing in the right direction”.

Even more worryingly, GDP per head of population is also plummeting, meaning the average Brit feels much poorer than they did when Sunak came to office in October, 2022.

Cut National Debt

No matter how government ministers try to slice it, national debt is going up.

In December, the UK Statistics Authority rebuked the prime minister for claiming on social media and in the House of Commons that it was coming down.

This is where it gets pretty technical.

The government says its target is to have net debt falling as a proportion of GDP in the final year of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) five year forecast.

Sir Robert Chote, chair of the UKSA, said: “The average person in the street would… likely have assumed that [the PM] was claiming that debt was already falling or that the government’s policy decisions had lowered it at the fiscal events – neither of which is the case.”

Treasury minister Laura Trott also tied herself in knots last week as she also tried to claim on Radio 4 that debt was falling.

Evan Davis, presenter of the PM programme, told her: “I’m amazed you don’t know that debt is rising.”

Reduce NHS Waiting Lists

Another failure.

Although waiting lists have started to come down in the last couple of months, they are still around 400,000 higher than they were when Sunak made his promise.

The government insists that the ongoing strikes by junior doctors are to blame, but the pay dispute was already known about when the PM made his pledges, so can’t be used as an excuse now.

Stop The Boats

The PM isn’t even close to meeting this promise.

In the last week alone, 218 migrants have managed to make the perilous crossing, according to the Home Office’s own statistics.

And although Sunak is fond of pointing out that the number of crossings in 2023 was around a third lower than the year before, his promise wasn’t to bring them down a bit, but to stop them entirely.

Downing Street have also refused to name a date for when the PM plans to have stopped the crossings - a tacit admission that it won’t be happening any time soon, if at all.

The Verdict

Despite Sunak’s claim last month that “on all five priorities we have made progress”, the bottom line is that he has only kept one of the five promises he made to voters in January, 2023.

He said at the time: “We will rebuild trust in politics through action, or not at all. So, I ask you to judge us on the effort we put in and the results we achieve.”

Unfortunately for the PM, voters will very shortly have the opportunity to pass judgment on him and his government - and their verdict is unlikely to be a positive one.


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