Next few years will be 'most dangerous' UK has ever known, Rishi Sunak to say in 'major' speech

Rishi Sunak will give a speech on Monday setting out "bold ideas to change society" - as he seeks to regain momentum following the defection of one of his MPs to Labour and a hammering at the local elections.

In what is being billed by Downing Street as a "major speech" in central London, the prime minister will outline "the stark choice facing the UK public" ahead of the general election later this year.

Mr Sunak has suggested he will go to the polls in the autumn, with Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron telling Sky News on Sunday that voters need time "to see our plan is working".

In a bid to revive his faltering premiership, the Tory leader will say: "I have bold ideas that can change our society for the better, and restore people's 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.

"I'm convinced that the next few years will be some of the most dangerous yet most transformational our country has ever known."

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It is not clear what specific ideas the prime minister will set out.

A trail of the speech released by Downing Street says he will discuss safeguarding the nation's security against threats like war and rising global immigration.

Mr Sunak will also set out his intention to capitalise safely on the opportunities presented by artificial intelligence.

He will go on to say: "Our country stands at a crossroads.

"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."

The speech comes after a difficult week for Mr Sunak, who faced his second defection to Labour after Dover MP Natalie Elphicke crossed the floor to join the opposition benches shortly before PMQs on Wednesday.

Ms Elphicke, considered to be on the right of the Tory party, blamed the "broken promises of Rishi Sunak's tired and chaotic government", and said key deciding factors for switching have been "housing and the safety and security of our borders".

The shock move made her the second Tory MP to join the Labour Party in 11 days after former minister Dan Poulter defected to the opposition, blaming NHS "chaos".

Mr Sunak has also come under pressure after the Conservatives suffered a mauling at the local elections, losing nearly 500 council seats, the Backpool South by-election and the West Midlands mayoralty in a bruising set of results.

In the wake of the defeats, Mr Sunak was facing calls to tack both further right and further to the centre.

Time is running out to make up ground against Labour ahead of the election, which has to be held by 25 January at the latest.