Sunak calls for ‘fundamental’ change as he scraps HS2, shakes up education

by | Oct 4, 2023

(Sharecast News) – Rishi Sunak has called on Conservative politicians to “fundamentally change our country”, as he scrapped HS2, unveiled a shake-up of qualifications and announced a long-term ban on smoking.
Introduced by his wife Akshata Murty, the prime minister told delegates that “politics doesn’t work the way it should”.

He continued: “We’ve had 30 years of political system that incentivises the easy decision, not the right one. Why? Because our political system is too focused on short-term advantage, not long-term success.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Conference, our mission is to fundamentally change our country.”

In a lengthy speech, much of which was already widely-trailed, Sunak confirmed that the second phase of the HS2 rail project, Birmingham to Manchester, would be scrapped. The decision, he said, would save £36bn, all of which will be invested in rail, tram and road projects across the country.

He also announced plans to raise the legal smoking age by one year every year, until there were no legal smokers left in the country, and suggested A-levels and recently introduced T-levels would be replaced with a five-subject Advanced British Standard qualification.

Under the new qualification, students over 16 would be required to study English and maths until 18, and would spend more time in class.

Sunak acknowledged that his plans would require more teachers, which he would do by offering bonuses worth up to £30,000 in certain subjects.

He concluded: “We will give the country what it so sorely needs and yet too often has been denied: a government prepared to make long-term decisions that we can build a bright future for everyone.

“Be in no doubt. It is time for a change. And we are it.”

The Conservatives have been in office since 2010. The last general election was in December 2019, meaning Parliament must be dissolved ahead of the next general election by 17 December 2024 at the latest.

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