Rishi Sunak: I inherited ‘worst hospital pass’ for a new PM in decades

Rishi Sunak has suggested he inherited the “worst hospital pass” of any new prime minister in decades when he took over from predecessor Liz Truss.

However, Sunak said he was “entirely confident that there are better times ahead”.

The comments came in a podcast interview published by The Times with Lord Hague, the former foreign secretary and someone widely considered to be a mentor to the PM. Sunak succeeded Lord Hague as the MP for Richmond after the 2015 general election. 

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The former Conservative Party leader put it to Sunak that he had become PM at a “very hard time”.

The prime minister replied: “I think someone described it as the worst hospital pass for any incoming prime minister in however many decades. There’s lots of frustrations, we’ve been through a lot as a country over the past few years, which people are understandably frustrated about.

“It makes the environment trickier but I am entirely confident that there are better times ahead.

“All the things that I have been working hard on for the last year I think you can start to see are making a difference, that change is starting to become more apparent in people’s lives and that is what gives me optimism about the future.”

The comments came as the Office for National Statistics confirmed on Thursday that the economy shrank by 0.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2023 and 0.3 per cent in the fourth.

That was unrevised from the statisticians’ previous estimates.

Meanwhile, 338 people crossed the English Channel on 26 March 2024, making a total of 1,115 in the preceding seven days.

The total of 1,115 arrivals in the last seven days represents the busiest week of what is still – after almost three months – the busiest start to a year on record for Channel crossings.

The total number of arrivals this year stands at 4,644 as of 26 March, 23 per cent higher than the same period in 2023 (3,770) and 12 per cent higher than the previous record year in 2022 (4,162).

“Stopping the boats” and growing the economy are two of the PM’s “five pledges” for government. 

Speaking to Lord Hague, Rishi Sunak also said pollsters have been wrong before as he responded to a polling expert Sir John Curtice’s claim that Labour now has a “99 per cent chance” of being in power after the next election.

Labour has 99% chance of winning next election, says expert John Curtice

Sir John made the comment to Politico as he highlighted the scale of the challenge facing the PM as he tries to guide the Conservative Party to their fifth election victory in a row.

Sunak said: “We’ve had plenty of predictions about elections and referendums in the past few years which have turned out to be wrong. So we should always remember that.

“What I detect when I am out and about across the country, I understand there is an enormous amount of frustration because it has not been easy but I also detect a very strong sense that people feel things are getting better.”

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