After Another Setback for the Conservatives: This Is How Rishi Sunak Broke His Five Promises to the British

Murad Jandali | a year ago




Despite the Conservative Party being in a better position than it has been over the past year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak still faces enormous challenges if he is to convince voters that the government deserves a fifth term in office.

Sunak has been facing new challenges for two weeks now, after two months of relatively positive evaluation of the performance of Sunak’s government, which pledged to show integrity, professionalism, and responsibility after a series of scandals involving former PM Boris Johnson.

However, Sunak has so far disappointed with the five electoral promises on which he called on the British to hold him accountable, and no significant progress has been made.

In addition to the wave of resignations, scandals, and investigations that the Sunak government has suffered from over the past months, the latest of which was the resignation of British Deputy PM and Justice Minister Dominic Raab, which came two weeks before the local elections, which seem to be difficult for the Conservatives.

Sunak is also currently under parliamentary investigation into his possible failure to declare the shares his wife holds in a childcare agency boosted by the government budget.

All the aforementioned still raises questions and doubts by observers of British affairs about the possibility that it will lead to the collapse of the policy of the Conservative government and its return, with every setback it faces.

It is noteworthy that in less than two weeks, local elections will be held, which will be an indication of the Conservative Party’s chances in the general elections that the UK will witness in 2024.


Five Promises

At the start of 2023, PM Rishi Sunak made five election promises, calling on the British to hold him accountable accordingly, and they include: Halving inflation, cutting NHS waiting lists, growing the economy, bringing down the national debt, and stopping the small boats carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel.

However, the progress being made on those promises so far is disappointing, as reported by the Huffington Post on April 22, 2023.

On April 13, it was confirmed that far from cutting waiting lists, they are now longer than ever before, with a staggering 7.22 million people now waiting to start routine hospital treatment.

The bad news for the PM kept coming this week when official data revealed that the CPI rate of inflation fell from 10.4% in February to 10.1% in March, a far smaller reduction than experts were predicting.

Even more worryingly, they also showed that food prices, a metric easily understood by voters every time they go to the supermarket, soared by 19.1% in the past year, the highest rate since 1977.

As for the refugee file, which occupies many voters and affects their attitudes, figures revealed last week that more than 5,000 asylum seekers have crossed the border in 2023 so far.

Although this number represents a 20% decrease in the number of asylum seekers compared to last year’s numbers, it is still a far cry from Sunak’s pledge to end the flights entirely.

The UK government confirmed last week that Sunak is not promising Britons to stop the boats by the time of the next election, a tacit admission that this may be an intractable problem.

In turn, a senior member of the Conservative Party said that even if Sunak fails to completely reduce the flow of refugees to the UK, it will not necessarily mean the end of Sunak’s hopes of remaining at the head of government.

He added that the file of asylum seekers is currently being discussed and linked to the general elections in 2024, due to the efforts made by the Conservative government regarding it, pointing out that the Labour Party, if it is in a position of power, will not move a finger on this file.

In contrast, a Labour source said, “Rishi Sunak had lowered the standards of his promises so he could try to claim big success without having to push too hard.”

“We have gone through 13 years of Tory failure and broken promises, and it is time for real change,” he continued.


Tory Scandals

In a new setback for PM Rishi Sunak, his deputy Dominic Raab announced his resignation after an independent report concluded that he bullied civil servants, displayed aggressive behavior, and abused his power, as Reuters reported.

In the letter to the Prime Minister dated April 21, 2023, Raab, who is the Minister of Justice and has been a staunch ally of Sunak, wrote: “I am writing to resign from your government. I have requested this investigation and have pledged to resign if whatever facts of bullying are proven.

Raab also stressed that this investigation is a dangerous precedent, and encourages the filing of false complaints against ministers, adding: “It will have a chilling effect on the government and the people.”

Sunak accepted this resignation, and in a letter addressed to his former minister, he expressed his great sadness, praising Rap’s years of service in various governments, without questioning his behavior.

On his part, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, responded quickly, accusing the prime minister of weakness for not sacking Raab from office.

Downing Street sources told The Guardian that “Sunak had not asked Raab to resign, but that it was his former deputy who offered to step down and it was agreed.”

The Guardian said that “Raab’s resignation may mark the end of his political career, with allies acknowledging that he is expected to lose his seat to the Liberal Democrats in next year’s general election.”

It is noteworthy that he had launched this investigation in the wake of eight complaints related to Raab’s behavior when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs and when he assumed the Brexit portfolio, as well as during his short-term tenure as Justice Secretary.

Former PM Boris Johnson had received legal advice about the bullying behavior of Raab during his tenure, but he contented himself with warning his ally and did not take any action against him; knowing that 24 civil servants have made allegations against his inappropriate and bullying behavior, not only during his tenure as Johnson’s Justice Secretary, but since assuming positions in the Foreign Office and in managing Britain’s exit from the EU.

Dominic Raab has consistently denied the accusations, which have poisoned the government for months and prompted much criticism from the opposition.

The shock of the investigation that led to Raab’s resignation will not be easy for Sunak for many reasons; as Sunak restored Raab to his position with his arrival in Downing Street, despite the allegations against the minister, although he seemed to prefer loyalty over competence, a charge that haunted Johnson for a long time and was a reason for Sunak’s criticism of him, and Sunak’s election promises also revolved around the issue of accountability, which indicated that Johnson’s government was corrupt.

A day before Raab’s resignation, the British government reaffirmed its full confidence in the Deputy PM, and said it was carefully studying the results of the report.

Raab’s resignation comes at a bad time for the Conservative government, with local elections approaching, cut also at a time when Sunak, who has been in office since October 2022, seems to have achieved some stability in his party after months of scandals and its decline in opinion polls.

It is also noteworthy that Dominic Raab is not the first official to resign from the Sunak government over a case related to breach of laws, corruption, or inappropriate behavior.

In November 2022, Secretary of State Gavin Williamson resigned after a letter he had sent to the Conservative Party’s chief disciplinary officer was leaked, salaciously berating him for failing to secure an invitation to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

Knowing that Williamson was previously dismissed from the position of Defense Secretary in Theresa May’s government, on the grounds of leaking classified information, he was also dismissed from the position of Education Secretary in Johnson’s government, also on the background of his disastrous management of this sector.

Added to this is the resignation of the head of the Conservative Party, Nadhim Zahawi, in January 2023, on the grounds of tax evasion, which is also an old case that has been raised against him since he assumed the position of Finance Secretary in the Johnson government.

It is noteworthy that Sunak restored Suella Braverman to the position of Home Secretary after she was dismissed from the same position in the Liz Truss government, on the grounds of leaking confidential information through her personal email and violating laws.

He also reinstated Oliver Dowden as Cabinet Minister after he had been sacked from Johnson’s government over his harassment of one of his colleagues at a Conservatives party, and recently appointed him as his deputy instead of Raab.


Sunak’s Failures

Rishi Sunak is facing an expanded investigation into his possible failure to declare the shares his wife holds in a childcare agency boosted by the Budget, as reported by The Independent on April 24, 2023.

A source at 10 Downing Street said on 17 April 2023 that the investigation relates to the shares of the prime minister’s wife, Akshata Murty, which she owns in the children’s agency, Koru Kids, which is set to benefit from the state budget last month.

Koru Kids is one of six childcare agencies listed on the UK government website that welcomed Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of cash incentives for babysitters.

But Sunak did not detail his wife’s shares when being questioned by the liaison committee. Asked by MPs if he had any relevant interests to declare, Sunak said: “No, all my disclosures are declared in the normal way.”

On April 18, 2023, the opposition Labour Party demanded that the PM clean up and publicize his interests.

10 Downing Street resisted the call to publish it at the time, saying it had no plans to publish Sunak’s interests separately in the broader list of interests of all ministers.

But the full list of all ministers, including Sunak, was released less than 24 hours later, for the first time in nearly a year.

The Sunak government has faced criticism over the delay in publishing the list, which is supposed to be published twice a year but was last updated 11 months ago.

During his assumption of the finance portfolio, criticism was directed at Sunak last year after media reports emerged that his wealthy wife, Akshata Murty, had benefited from tax breaks.

However, Sunak was acquitted of any violation of ministerial regulations, and his wife announced at a later time that she would pay taxes on her overseas income, knowing that being a foreigner allows her to be exempted from this matter.

In January 2023, Sunak was fined by the British police for riding in a car without wearing a seatbelt while filming a video for social media.

This is the second punishment Sunak has received from the police after it was discovered last year that he had breached COVID-19 lockdown rules alongside then-PM Boris Johnson.

Sunak is one of the richest members of parliament thanks to his work in the financial sector, and his wealth has often been the subject of criticism from the Labour opposition, which considers him far from the concerns of the British, in the midst of the crisis of the high cost of living.