Friday, 12 Jul 2024

Rishi Sunak’s tactics revealed for overturning Labour’s big opinion polls lead

Rishi Sunak is planning a series of “bold” announcements that will focus on what is “best for Britain” to put the Tories on the path to election victory.

He will pitch himself to voters as the “change” candidate, willing to take tough decisions such as ditching the next phase of the costly HS2 rail line.

The Prime Minister will set out his vision for the country in his keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference tomorrow. A source close to the PM said: “There is a path to victory. It’s difficult but it can be done.

“It’s about who can be the change candidate and that’s what Rishi is going to show.

“He will be setting out a bold vision for the country.

“Tough decisions need to be taken but he will do what is right for the country.

“It doesn’t matter to him if some people criticise – he will do what he believes is the right thing.

“He will make decisions based upon the facts and his own conviction of what’s best for Britain.”

Mr Sunak is understood to believe that he can pitch himself as the “change” candidate at the next election despite the Tory Party’s 13-year rule.

Allies say the fact that he is less than a year into the job and has been in the Cabinet for only three years means he is not weighed down by the legacy of previous Governments and can look at issues from a fresh perspective.

READ MORE: The ‘real reason’ why Rishi Sunak is set to axe HS2 Manchester link

The PM “does things differently” and plans to be bolder after a cautious start focused on stabilising the economy, it was said.

At the core of his strategy is the need to bring down inflation to ease the financial pressure on households.

But he will use the speech to dip into his personal story to show what motivates his politics.

The Tories are planning for a pre-Christmas general election in 2024 when voters will have more money in their pockets.

Cabinet ministers say the national poll will be in “12 to 14 months” with next year’s Conservative Party conference at the heart of the campaign.

Mr Sunak could push the vote as far as January 2025 and there has also been speculation that he could go as early as the coming spring. But his top team is preparing for the PM to announce the vote around this time next year.

The party is ramping up its grassroots operation with plans to double the number of campaign managers as it gets on an election footing.

Senior Tories believe they can win if the people feel better off and fear Labour is not on their side.

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One Cabinet Minister said: “People who voted for us in 2019 are looking for a reason to vote for us again.

“When it comes down to it, does anybody believe that Labour will cut taxes? They didn’t do it under Blair so they definitely won’t under Starmer.

“And on small boats, the numbers are coming down but under Starmer it would be a free-for-all.”

Senior ministers believe an early election would not give the party enough time for the economy to recover and fear the impact will ­filter through to the public. One said falling inflation will only register with voters once the costs of the weekly shop and filling up the car with petrol stop rising.

Labour had been ahead in the polls by around 20 points recently.

But the PM’s announcement of delaying net zero policies that would have cost families thousands of pounds has seen the lead cut by 10 points.

The Opinium research published on Sunday put Labour on 39% and the Conservatives on 29% – much closer than before. Tories insist that the figures show that Sir Keir’s lead is “soft” as voters do not warm to the Labour leader and can still be won over.

One Cabinet minister said criticism that Mr Sunak is yet to set out a big vision for the country is a positive as he has a “blank page” to draw on now that he has made progress on economic stability.

But the senior Tory said the PM must do more to win over younger voters. The minister said: “He needs to make a big offer on housing to attract new people.”

Mr Sunak seems set to ditch the next phase of the costly HS2 line to Manchester as he clears the decks ahead of an election.

The decision follows costs
spiralling out of control and is expected to be buffered with an announcement of funding for local transport projects.

Former PMs, including Boris Johnson and Theresa May, have called for the full line to be built.

Mr Sunak was seen applauding and posing for selfies with delegates during day two of the Conservative Party conference at the Manchester Central convention complex yesterday.

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