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'On me personally' if inflation isn't halved, says PM

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The prime minister is currently visiting the United States, where he will be speaking with President Joe Biden about a range of topics, including the economy. Mr Sunak has pledged to halve inflation by the end of this year.
Political reporter
Wednesday 7 June 2023 23:23, UK
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Rishi Sunak says he will take personal responsibility if inflation in the UK has not halved by the end of the year.
The prime minister was speaking to Sky News political editor Beth Rigby during a visit to Washington DC, where he will meet President Biden.
Mr Sunak has made a significant amount of noise about his five priorities, which he says are also the „people’s priorities”.
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They include: Halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists, and stop the boats.
He promised in January – when inflation was 10.1% – to tackle price growth to help with the cost of living crisis.
The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics had inflation easing to 8.7% – but food inflation remained at nearly 20% and core price inflation is at a 30-year-high.
„First, we will halve inflation this year to ease the cost of living and give people financial security,” Mr Sunak said in his January speech.
Beth Rigby asked him: „Two of your five pledges – inflation down by the end of the year, the UK out of recession by the end of the year.
„If you fail on either of them, do you take personal responsibility, you don’t blame the Bank of England, you don’t blame consumers, you don’t blame business. It’s on you personally because it’s your personal pledges?”
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The prime minister said: „Of course it’s on me personally. I’m the prime minister. I’m the person who set out those five pledges to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists, and to stop the boats, and I intend to deliver on those.”
Mr Sunak added: „When it comes to growing the economy, as you mentioned, we’ve already avoided the recession that many predicted. People are upgrading our growth forecasts as we speak.
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„I’m announcing £14bn of investment into the UK, which is going to support thousands of jobs. And just this week I managed to explain to the country how we’re progressing our boats plan, which means that this year, crossings into the UK down by almost a fifth over the first five months of this year.
„So look, the plans are working, but I’m not complacent. There’s work to do and I intend to deliver.”
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Asked if it was a „dealbreaker” if he did not deliver for the British public, Mr Sunak said: „It’s absolutely my responsibility. I’ve told the public to hold me accountable.
„They should be able to have politicians who deliver what they say, and that’s what I intend to do.”
Mr Sunak was also asked if – like Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said last week – he was prepared to risk a recession to bring inflation down.
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The prime minister did not deny this might need to happen, saying: „I think what the Chancellor was saying is that inflation is the challenge that we must confront.
„Obviously, monetary policy interest rates are a decision for the Bank of England, so it wouldn’t be right for me to comment on that.”
As well as discussing trade with the US president, Mr Sunak will bring up artificial intelligence.
No 10 said the UK would host the first global summit on AI safety, with Mr Sunak and Mr Biden taking „a coordinated approach to the opportunities and challenges of emerging tech”.
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