Rishi Sunak promises to tackle NHS backlog as Liz Truss promises EU ‘red tape bonfire’ | Politics News



Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are stepping up their campaigns for the Tory leadership this weekend, announcing new policies to tackle NHS backlogs and scrap EU laws if they become prime minister.

First, the former chancellor, who will promise to make cutting NHS waiting lists his ‘number one public service priority’ if he wins the competition.

A record 6.5million were awaiting routine NHS hospital treatment in June – the highest number since records began 15 years ago.

The number of people waiting over a year for hospital treatment is almost 200 times higher than before the pandemic, with 300,000 in the queue at the end of February this year – compared to 2020 when that figure was less than 2000.

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In a speech in Grantham – the hometown of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher – Mr Sunak pledged to create a “vaccine-like task force” to “reduce bureaucracy and waste, and drive radical reforms.

He said he would “eliminate one-year waits” by September 2024 – six months earlier than the government’s current target – and ensure that anyone who has been waiting for more than 18 weeks for a procedure is contacted by their trust within 100 days.

And in its ‘war-pedaling’ NHS plan it promised to provide 200 community diagnostic centers by March 2024, offering things like MRIs and CT scans, expanding home testing and helping patients choose their own meeting times.

But staff are already feeling the pressure of the pandemic and there are vacancies across the board, with Labor warning the government needs a plan to ‘tackle the workforce crisis ” in the service if he wants to reduce waiting times.

Meanwhile, in her latest political speech, Ms Truss promised a ‘bureaucratic bonfire’ of EU laws, pledging to review all the rules retained in the UK after Brexit by the end of 2023.

Foreign Secretary says she will then remove or replace those she believes are hurting economic growth to ‘encourage business investment’ and ‘make the most of our new freedoms outside the EU’ – echoing Boris Johnson’s promises.

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What the body language of the two remaining Conservative candidates tells us

Ms Truss insisted she was the ‘best candidate to seize the opportunities of Brexit’, adding: ‘EU regulations are hampering our business and that needs to change.

“At Downing Street, I will seize the opportunity to deviate from outdated European legislation and frameworks and capitalize on the opportunities that lie before us.”

Mr Sunak has already pledged to appoint a Brexit minister to review the winning laws if he wins the contest.

He said they would be tasked with making initial recommendations for the rules to be scrapped or changed within 100 days of the former chancellor taking office.

There are currently over 2,000 pieces of legislation the UK has retained since leaving the EU, and Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg had pledged to repeal all remaining laws by 2026.

But TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said ‘the cynical and reckless proposals by leadership candidates threaten the hard-won rights of working people’.

She added: “Paid leave, equal pay for women and men, safe limits on working hours and parental leave are just some of the rights underpinned by retained EU law. They are all essentials – it’s not nice to have.

“Let’s call this out for what it is – an ideological posturing at the expense of ordinary working people.”

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Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran echoed the point and said the Tories “better focus on fixing their botched trade deal with Europe, which is drowning our businesses in bureaucracy and increases prices in shops”.

Mr Sunak and Ms Truss were nominated on Wednesday as the final two candidates in the race to become Britain’s next Conservative leader and Prime Minister. after their rival, Penny Mordaunt, was eliminated from the race.

A member of Ms Mordaunt’s campaign claimed on Friday there had been ‘nasty briefings’ against her of the two remaining candidates, and warned them that the tactic “would backfire in the long run”.

The winner of the contest goes to members of the Conservative Party, who will have until September 2 to vote for their preference after six weeks of campaigning and campaigning across the country.

The result will be announced on September 5, with the new prime minister due to replace Mr Johnson in Downing Street a day later.

In the meantime, Mr Johnson will remain as caretaker Prime Minister in Number 10.

Conservative leadership debate: Be in the audience

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will take part in a one-on-one debate on Sky News on Thursday August 4 at 8 p.m. hosted by Kay Burley.

If you would like to be part of the live studio audience and have the opportunity to ask a question, please apply here.


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