During the height of the pandemic, the nation knew Rishi Sunak as the architect behind the furlough scheme and funding the vaccine rollout. As a nation we have come to know more about his economic philosophy than his political convictions on other public policy issues.

In his first address to the nation he sought to unite and rally the Conservative party around its 2019 manifesto, but can he deliver, and in doing so will it serve the good of the whole country?

“Controlling our borders” remains a priority for this government

Delivering Brexit and immigration reform were two key policy promises that won the Tories its landslide victory. They are also two policies that evoke strong emotions amongst the general public and policy experts alike.

In April 2022, the controversial Nationality and Borders Act became law: introducing a two-tier asylum system where those who entered UK territory by any other means than an safe route could face four years in prison and extending powers to the home secretary to remove British citizenship. Eight weeks on from passing this legislation the government struck a multi-million-pound economic deal with the Rwandan government to process asylum claims for those removed from the UK.

The Rwandan-scheme is loathed by all in the refugee sector but applauded by conservative backbenchers, including the now prime minister. In July’s conservative leadership election, Rishi Sunak pledged that in his first 100 days as prime minister he would do“whatever it takes to implement it and pursue additional similar partnerships”. 


Yesterday in re-appointing Suella Braverman as home secretary, Sunak sent a strong message to both conservative backbenchers and Red Wall voters that immigration reform and implementing the Rwandan-scheme in full is a policy priority that he will drive forward.

Resolving the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill impasse is also significant political issue for this government.

The bill is currently in committee stage in the House of Lords where it is being scrutinised line by line. Long-serving Conservative peers are urging the new prime minister to reconsider this policy as they fear to move forward without EU agreement will affect the UK’s credibility in the markets. And yet, inaction prolongs Northern Ireland’s ability to govern, because of the Democratic Unionist Party’s refusal to convene an executive until the bill is removed.

The prime minister has the parliamentary majority to deliver both policy commitments, but it won’t be easy. There are multiple political landmines he and his government must tentatively work around if he is to appeal to both Red Wall voters and keep the union together. Politically, with the UK having left the European Union, and global changes since, it is not clear whether delivering these promises will help to resurrect the party’s appeal across the country.

"I will unite our country, not with words, but with action"

Delivering the levelling up agenda in two-years is unlikely

Levelling up” was the dominant campaign slogan from the 2019 election, under the then Conservative leader Boris Johnson. He sought to rally the party around a common cause, to reduce regional inequality and promised voters in the post-industrial communities, coastal and rural towns that there would be significant investment. 

The Conservatives pledged a multi-billion pound investment in infrastructure, highly skilled apprentice and city council funds and so much more. A vision more ambitious than any 5-year parliamentary term could deliver and an ambition made more complicated by expected government spending cuts and rising taxes.

Although the levelling up white paper cannot be delivered in full within the next two years, what Sunak and re-appointed secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, Michael Gove will seek to do is to win back the confidence of these communities, disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis. We can expect in the coming months to see Mr Gove in campaign mode, touring different counties and moving much of Whitehall jobs to different regions across the UK in the hope of strengthening dialogue between local government needs and central government’s ability to provide investment and resources.

As the Evangelical Alliance, our role is to showcase the incredible work and responses of churches and Christian organisations to local needs. On Wednesday, 2 November, we will be hosting a joint event in Westminster with Christians Against Poverty bringing together policymakers and churches to build greater collaboration this winter.

Human Rights Act back on the table?

Dominic Raab has returned to the cabinet and resumes his responsibilities as deputy prime minister and justice secretary. Prior to his departure in the summer, he sent out policy proposal to repeal the Human Rights 1998 Act and in its place introduced the Bill of Rights Bill. His return to frontbench politics signals this bill could also be making a comeback.

Earlier this year we submitted written evidence to the ministry of justice consultation on reforming the Human Rights Act and again in the summer to joint committee on human rights legislative scrutiny of the bill. Our main concern with the Bill of Rights is the weakening of Article 10, freedom of expression and missed opportunity to strengthen Article 9, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It is our view as religion is increasingly perceived as optional, and the manifestation of belief is increasingly limited in the public sphere it is vital that policymakers seek to protect and strengthen minority views in a progressive and secularised society.

As the advocacy team, we have already reached out to civil servants and policy leads within the ministry of justice to discuss the possibilities of this bill returning to parliament and will listen closely to Dominic Rabb’s first statement as justice secretary.

Restoring economic credibility and stability is good for the country

Monday, 31 October was the original date set for the announcement of the government’s medium fiscal statement. 

However, moments before prime minister’s questions, the chancellor gave a short briefing to the media, explaining the government would now produce an autumn statement on Thursday, 17 October.

As the new prime minster and cabinet settle into new responsibilities and consider departmental priorities and expected cuts, it is vital that on 17 November they prioritise support for low-income households battling rising energy prices and food costs. Restoring economic stability is both good for the nation and at this moment in time a moral imperative. 

As evangelicals, regardless of our political persuasions, it is important that we pray for our political leaders and governing institutions. Pray in the weeks and months ahead they will lead with godly wisdom and discernment.

Listen to Danny Webster, director of advocacy’s interview on Premier Christian Radio I think Rishi will be appointed by this afternoon.