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Rishi Sunak warns Britain is at a crossroads ahead of general election

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reacts as he leaves 10 Downing Street in central London on May 8, 2024.

Adrian Dennis | Afp | Getty Images

LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will declare on Monday that Britain is at a “crossroads” and in need of bold new ideas as he seeks to reignite waning support for his ruling Conservative Party ahead of a general election.

In a speech to be delivered in central London, Sunak will say that the years ahead will be among the most challenging in Britain’s history, with threats such as war, migration and technology all set to intensify.

Speaking ahead of a national election expected later this year — although the date has not yet been set — Sunak will argue that he is the best person to navigate these threats.

“I feel a profound sense of urgency because more will change in the next five years than in the last 30,” he will say, according to a preview of the speech cited by Sky News.

“I’m convinced that the next few years will be some of the most dangerous yet most transformational our country has ever known,” he will add.

Downing Street billed the remarks as a “major speech,” but did not provide details of the specific proposals when contacted by CNBC.

Aides told the Guardian that Sunak has wanted to deliver the speech for some time. However, the comments have gained fresh urgency as the incumbent’s political future hangs in the balance following a dismal showing for the Conservatives in local elections earlier this month, as well as a string of defections by Tory MPs to the opposition Labour Party.

Current opinion polls put Labour as much as 30 points ahead of the Tories, and at least 64 Tory MPs have said they will step down at the general election.

Labour has said that the Conservatives cannot fix the U.K.’s problems because “they are the problem.”

But Sunak, who has positioned tackling illegal immigration and capitalizing on the prospects of artificial intelligence as key tenets of his premiership, will insist that he can move the country forward.

“Our country stands at a crossroads,” 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.”

“I have bold ideas that can change our society for the better, and restore people’s confidence and pride in our country.”

It is unclear exactly when Britons will head to the polls, but Sunak has indicated that a vote could be called in the autumn. By law, the next U.K. general election must be held no later than 28 January 2025.

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