Rishi Sunak to promise 'bold ideas' in pre-election pitch

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to the press during
[Reuters]

Rishi Sunak will say the UK "stands at a crossroads" ahead of "some of the most dangerous years", in a pre-election pitch to voters on Monday.

In a speech, the prime minister will argue his "bold ideas" can "create a more secure future" for Britons.

It will be his biggest intervention since the Conservatives' bleak showing in the local elections.

Labour said the Tories cannot fix the UK's problems as "they are the problem".

National polling puts Labour as much as 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in general election voting intentions.

The Tories also lost 470 councillors in the local elections, as well as the key mayoral race in the West Midlands.

Mr Sunak is set to argue in a speech in London that voters face a stark choice in who will lead the country through "some of the most dangerous yet most transformational" years ever.

The prime minister is seeking to portray himself as the best person to deal with the challenges after the general election - expected before the end of the year.

He will say he has "bold ideas" that can "create a more secure future" for Britons and restore their "confidence and pride in our country".

"I feel a profound sense of urgency because more will change in the next five years than in the last 30," he said.

Mr Sunak will vow to safeguard the UK against threats of war, a global rise in immigration and "those seeking to undermine our shared values and identities".

And he will pledge to capitalise on opportunities presented by technologies such as artificial intelligence.

He will say: "Over the next few years, from our democracy to our economy to our society - to the hardest questions of war and peace - almost every aspect of our lives is going to change.

"How we act in the face of these changes - not only to keep people safe and secure but to realise the opportunities too - will determine whether or not Britain will succeed in the years to come.

"And this is the choice facing the country."

Labour's national campaign coordinator Pat McFadden said: "Nothing the prime minister says will change the fact that over the past 14 years the Conservatives have brought costly chaos to the country."

He added: "The only way to stop the chaos, turn the page and start to renew is with a change of government."

Downing Street has argued Mr Sunak has a track record of delivering bold solutions, from furlough during the pandemic to the Rwanda scheme - which was first launched by Boris Johnson's administration.

The prime minister has sought to convince voters that Britain's economic prospects are improving in a bid to reverse the Tories' electoral fortunes.

Whether today's rallying call is enough to convince despondent Conservative MPs - or voters - is another matter.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron on Sunday argued it would be "absolutely right" for the general election to be held in the second half of the year to give voters time to see "the economic plan is working".

Official figures last week showed the economy grew by 0.6% over the first quarter, ending a technical recession recorded in the final half of last year.

But Mr Sunak has faced repeated setbacks - including the recent local election results. His woes deepened with the defection of Natalie Elphicke in protest against his record on housing and stopping small boat Channel crossings - the second MP to desert the Tories for Labour in as many weeks.