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Rishi Sunak: ‘I’d like to give Giorgia Meloni a taste of Yorkshire nightlife’

Election 60 seconds Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is hoping to extend his stay in Number 10 (Picture: Leon Neal/PA Wire)

Senior political reporter Craig Munro spoke to four top party leaders for Metro’s 60 Seconds interviews ahead of the General Election on July 4.

You can find our interviews with Keir Starmer of Labour, Ed Davey of the Liberal Democrats and Carla Denyer of the Green Party at these links. Nigel Farage of Reform UK declined to take part.

Here is our interview with Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak.

What’s been the best week of your time as prime minister (so far), and why? 

The first week of January this year was the most important because I was able to do something I firmly believe in – make substantial tax cuts for 27 million workers. I’m proud of what we did in the pandemic to rise to the extraordinary challenge and support people through, but I believe in low taxes and it was a relief to be in a place where I could make changes I wanted.

To me, cutting taxes is the morally right thing to do and I hope to keep putting money back in people’s pockets in the years ahead – in contrast to Labour, who will raise your taxes. 

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The most ‘pinch yourself’ moment, though, was playing with the England cricket team in the garden at No 10 – a boyhood dream. The kid who used to play in the Southampton cul de sac – fearing he’d break a car window with a rogue shot – wouldn’t have believed it. 

Rishi Sunak playing with members of the T20 World Cup winning England cricket team in the garden of No 10 Downing Street.
Sunak had a whale of a time with members of the T20 World Cup winning England cricket team last year (Picture: Simon Walker/No10 Downing Street)

Two and a half years on, what’s one benefit young people can enjoy from Brexit? 

I’ll give you several. First, every single young person over 18 can vote for the people who decide the laws that govern them and everyone in this country. The EU has passed over 6,000 laws in the time since we left – that’s 6,000 laws we haven’t had imposed on us without a say. We’ve also scrapped or repealed 2,000 existing EU laws because unnecessary red tape clobbers businesses and restricts opportunities for young people.

Second, we will scrap defective EU rules to unblock 100,000 homes to help more young people get on the property ladder – which Labour has previously blocked.

Third, we’ve agreed trade deals with over 70 countries and are joining the CPTPP, a trade block of fast-growing, dynamic economies, opening up huge opportunities for British businesses and creating great jobs for young people.

Fourth, we’ve been able to open freeports in Teeside, Plymouth, Inverness, Holyhead, Humber, Liverpool and others – allowing enterprise to flourish in the sectors of the future where young people will be pioneers creating thousands of jobs.

And fifth, we were the first country in the world to deploy the Covid vaccine and roll it out faster than any other country in Europe, using our Brexit freedoms to save lives and release us from lockdown quicker. 

A syringe being filled with the Moderna Covid vaccine.
Sunak credits Brexit for the speed of the UK’s Covid vaccine rollout (Picture: PA)

When you became prime minister, you said: ‘This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.’ Could you give one example of each since October 2022? 

I’ve been really clear about my values. While I accept we haven’t got everything right, I hope people see me as someone who believes in public service, works hard, and will put this country’s interests first.

To give you one example, when I set out my priorities, I did so on things that mattered and weren’t easy – but I gave real targets that you can hold me to account on. I notice Labour haven’t done remotely the same, preferring to make vague promises which they can slip out of. That’s not my style, and we’ll never get real progress like that. 

What’s the best night out in your constituency of Richmond and Northallerton? 

My favourite night out is going to the Everyman cinema in Northallerton. I saw Barbie there which was probably not my favourite film, but it was a great night out with my girls. The ability to sit down and turn the phone off for an hour or two is an extremely rare treat as Prime Minister. 

Which politician from a different party would you want to come along on that night out with you? 

I’d like to show my friend [Italian prime minister] Giorgia Meloni that the Yorkshire nightlife and beautiful scenery can rival the show she put on for us in Puglia recently. Suggestions on a postcard for a local musician to trump Bocelli please.  

Rishi Sunak and Giorgia Meloni at the G7 summit in June.
Sunak and Meloni appeared to hit it off at the G7 summit last month (Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

When was the last time you had to check whether you could afford to buy something, and what was it? 

I am fortunate, but I take nothing for granted. What’s at the front and centre of my mind every day is making life easier for people who are working hard for a better life.

My grandparents came here with little more than ambition, resilience and determination.  They taught me that building success and creating jobs and opportunities for people is a force for good. Of course, I know people want to look at my personal circumstances.

Am I fortunate now? Yes. Do I care passionately about those going through tougher times? Absolutely. Have I shown that through my actions as Chancellor and Prime Minister? From the furlough scheme to helping the most vulnerable with the cost of living and energy bills – I hope so. 

What lessons from this General Election campaign would you take into your next term as PM? 

I have met so many amazing people in the course of this campaign – from the apprentice I met in Penzance who continuously failed his basic maths but managed to get an apprenticeship which changed his life, to the farmers I met in Devon who work every hour of daylight to preserve our countryside and safeguard our food security, to the veterans I met in Normandy who put their lives on the line for the freedom we enjoy today.

I will take all their perspectives, ideas and energy with me for the next five years if I have the privilege to serve them again. 

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