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Keir Starmer is a risk to British national security, warns Rishi Sunak | Politics | News

Make no mistake about it, this was Rishi Sunak’s first speech of what could be a six-month long general election campaign.

Billed as a warning of the foreign policy and security challenges that lay ahead, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to canter through pretty much everything that might appear in his party’s election manifesto.

From defence to the economy, immigration, transport, taxation, pensioners, crime, the NHS and cancer – nothing was left out.

Those squeezed into the Westminster venue were told of hope and fear.

The hope that a fifth Tory government in a row would give and the fear that Labour, well ahead in the polls, would bring to the nation.

If this was a window into Mr Sunak’s Tory soul, then Sir Keir Starmer is the enemy who threatens to smash it.

Describing the wanna-be PM as a risk to national security who can’t be trusted and stands for nothing, Mr Sunak pulled no punches.

And he didn’t stop at Sir Softie – as turncoat MP once described him.

Angela Rayner, David Lammy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, and Jeremy Corbyn were all targets of Rishi’s rapier-like attacks.

There was also a thinly-veiled swipe at Liz Truss’s economic policies.

Even his voice had more “aggression” to it, the result of a cold according to aides.

Boris Johnson got an olive branch of some sort, with the PM saying he would welcome”all Conservative’s” to campaign for the party.  

Defence is one of the great dividing lines between the Conservative Party and Labour and Mr Sunak’s message was clear – it’s a big bad world out there and only the Tories can properly protect Britain from it.

Labour won’t.

Insiders tell me this will be a key theme in the coming months.

They say that Labour’s approach to foreign policy is “naive” at best.

Demanding that the UK stops arms sales to Israel if the invasion of Rafah goes ahead is “wildly misjudged “, they say.

While another Whitehall source has grave concerns over Mr Lammy’s flagship foreign policy idea of “progressive realism” – which includes Britain attending the EU’s foreign affairs council.

“This soft approach won’t work in the world we live in,” they said. “It also clearly shows Labour’s direction of travel when it comes to Brussels.”

The audience, mainly made up of political wonks, a smattering of Tory MPs and close Cabinet ally Mel Stride clearly loved it all.

This was a serious speech for serious times. I suspect it’s the first of many, many more to come.

The gloves are off now.

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