Tuesday, 27 Oct 2020

‘I won’t stop!’ Rishi Sunak delivers consoling speech as nation battles second COVID wave

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak acknowledged that ministers have been forced to make “difficult trade-offs and decisions” due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a speech to the virtual Conservative Party conference, Mr Sunak said the economy is undergoing significant change as a result of the crisis. He stressed that he cannot protect every job, admitting “the pain of knowing it only grows with each passing day”.

Mr Sunak committed himself to “a single priority” as Chancellor to “create, support and extend opportunity to as many people as I can”.

“We will not let talent wither, or waste, we will help all who want it find new opportunity and develop new skills,” he said.

The Chancellor said he will keep “listening and keep striving to be creative in response to the challenges our economy faces”.

“Where I can,” he added, “I will act”.

He continued: “I have always said I couldn’t protect every job or every business. No chancellor could.

“And even though I have said it, the pain of knowing it, only grows with each passing day.

“So, I am committing myself to a single priority – to create, support and extend opportunity to as many people as I can.

“Because even if this moment is more difficult than any you have ever faced, even if it feels like there is no hope, I am telling you that there is, and that the overwhelming might of the British state will be placed at your service.”

But he stressed the UK “cannot simply borrow our way out of any hole”.

He added: “We will protect the public finances, over the medium-term getting our borrowing and debt back under control.

“We have a sacred responsibility to future generations to leave the public finances strong, and through careful management of our economy, this Conservative Government will always balance the books.

“If instead we argue there is no limit on what we can spend, that we can simply borrow our way out of any hole, what is the point in us?

“I have never pretended there is some easy cost-free answer.

“Hard choices are everywhere.”

“I won’t stop trying to find ways to support businesses,” he concluded.

Mr Sunak, who is being touted as a potential successor to Boris Johnson, paid a “heartfelt tribute” to the Prime Minister, acknowledging the “difficult trade-offs and decisions” forced upon the Government.

He praised the Prime Minister for his “special and rare qualities”, adding: “I see his concern for the people everyday.”

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He said: “I’ve seen up close the burden the Prime Minister carries.

“We all know he has an ability to connect with people in a way few politicians manage.

“It is a special and rare quality.

“But what the commentators don’t see, the thing I see, is the concern and care he feels for people every day, for the wellbeing of every person in our country.

“Yes, it’s been difficult, challenges are part of the job, but on the big calls, in the big moments, Boris Johnson has got it right and that is the leadership that we need.”

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