Rishi Sunak 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.

Rishi Sunak
Image:
Rishi Sunak arriving in Washington

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.

Speaking today, 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?”

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.

Read more:
Chancellor comfortable with recession if it brings down inflation
Sunak has staked his premiership on five pledges but there are no easy answers

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak onboard Border Agency cutter HMC Seeker during a visit to Dover, ahead of a press conference to update the nation on the progress made in the six months since he introduced the Illegal Migration Bill under his plans to "stop the boats". Picture date: Monday June 5, 2023.
Image:
Rishi Sunak during a visit to Dover this week

“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.”

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.”

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