Thursday, 30 Mar 2023

Lord Frost issues Rishi Sunak stark warning on three ‘big problems’

Rishi Sunak shares first Party Political Broadcast

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Lord Frost has warned Rishi Sunak has three “big problems” facing him. The former Brexit minister highlighted Channel migrant crossings, extending a proposed ban on conversion therapy to include transgender people, and the ongoing row over the Northern Ireland Protocol as major challenges facing the Prime Minister.

Writing in the Telegraph, Lord Frost said: “Economic growth matters. But so do values and so does the ability to do raw politics. Here, three big problems are looming.”

The Tory peer warned it “won’t be easy” to stop small boat crossing and said the Government will “pay a political price” if voters do not believe it has “done everything” possible to get a grip on the issue, including overriding European human rights commitments.

He also claimed that transgender people being included in a new law to ban conversion therapy risks a “terrible identity politics tangle that just alienates our own supporters”.

And Lord Frost insisted it is a mistake to pause the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which gives ministers powers to unilaterally override elements of the Protocol, as it leaves the UK with no leverage to secure an agreement.

The protocol was aimed at preventing a hard border in Ireland but it has been an ongoing source of tension as it has created red tape on the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Lord Frost said he has heard that Mr Sunak is “holding a tougher line than some in his team” in negotiations with the EU.

He added: “I’m with the Prime Minister in trying to pull off something good. If he can’t: well, no deal is still better than a bad one.”

Lord Frost’s comments come as the PM, who entered No 10 in October, is seeking to turn around the Conservatives’ dire polling.

Labour has a 19-point lead over the Tories, according to Techne’s latest tracker poll for the Express.

Mr Sunak today visited northern England to promote his £2.1 billion levelling-up spending.

Speaking to voters in Morecambe, Lancashire, he defended his decision to hold off on slashing taxes.

His comments came during the week that Tory MPs aligned with former prime minister Liz Truss’s tax-cutting agenda met for the first time as part of the “Conservative Growth Group”.

Mr Sunak said: “I’m a Conservative, I want to cut your taxes… I wish I could do that tomorrow quite frankly but the reason we can’t is because of all the reasons you know.

“You’re not idiots, you know what’s happened.

“We had a massive pandemic for two years, we had to shut the country down, do a bunch of extraordinary things that didn’t come cheap.

“Now we’ve got this war going on which is having an enormous impact on inflation and interest rates.”

It comes after Mr Sunak set out his five key priorities for 2023 in a new year speech which were halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing national debt, tackling eye-watering NHS waiting lists for treatment, and new laws to stop small boats.

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