Sat. Feb 4th, 2023

Rishi Sunak has blamed Covid and the Ukraine war for what he acknowledged had been a “tough” 12 months, and warned in a prime ministerial new year message that the country’s problems will not disappear in 2023.

Often taking an openly party political stance, Sunak praised his government’s record and made no mention of the chaos within the Conservative party that contributed to 2022’s difficulties.

The year now ending had been tough, the prime minister said in a video address. “Just as we recovered from an unprecedented global pandemic, Russia launched a barbaric and illegal invasion across Ukraine. This has had a profound economic impact around the world, which the UK is not immune to.”

Passing over the impact of the disastrous September mini-budget under Liz Truss, one of three Tory prime ministers to serve in 2022, Sunak said the government had “taken difficult but fair decisions to get borrowing and debt under control”.

“Three months ago, I stood at the steps of Downing Street and promised I would work relentlessly on the things that matter most to you,” he said. “Since then, this government has taken decisive action to back our NHS with record resources to tackle the backlogs – more funding, more doctors and more nurses.

“We’re also tackling illegal migration and stopping criminals from abusing our asylum system. Now, I’m not going to pretend that all our problems will go away in the new year. But 2023 will give us an opportunity to showcase the very best of Britain on the world stage.”

With a general election expected in 2024, Keir Starmer’s new year message also contained clear partisan elements, saying 2023 would be “a new chapter for Britain” with the coronation of King Charles.

“We must look forward to that with hope,” the Labour leader said. “But for hope to flourish, Britain needs to change.”

During 2023, Starmer said, Labour would “set out the case for change”, including more equal economic growth, a green jobs revolution and what he called “a completely new way of doing politics”, based on trust.

Like Sunak and Starmer, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, noted the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and along with Starmer he hailed the England women’s football team for their triumph in the Euros.

Also saying change was needed in 2023, Davey condemned what he called “political chaos in the Conservative party, inflicting economic chaos on the rest of us.”



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