Rishi Sunak in Sussex: Prime Minister reveals sewage dumping stance and pays tribute to outgoing MPs

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Rishi Sunak said predictions will not deter for him from ‘fighting hard for every single vote’ as the general election edges closer.

The Prime Minister’s election trail brought him to Horsham and Crawley on Monday morning (June 10).

After his visit, he wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Buzzing to be back on the road today, campaigning in Crawley with Zack Ali and in Horsham with Jeremy Quin.

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“Today, we announced our plan to deliver 8,000 more police officers to keep our streets safe, building on the 20,000 we promised and delivered in our last manifesto.”

The Conservative leader’s visit to West Sussex comes two weeks after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited Lancing Parish Hall to make the first keynote speech of his general election campaign.

The Prime Minister visited Squire’s Garden Centre in Crawley – and knocked on doors in the local area – before visiting The Dog & Bacon Pub, in Horsham, for a Neighbourhood Watch meeting.

At the North Parade pub, Mr Sunak answered questions from the local media.

Response to election predictions

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Rishi Sunak visited the Dog and Bacon Pub in Horsham on Monday, June 10. Pictured with Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Horsham MP Jeremy Quin. Photo: SR Staff/National World / SR2406104Rishi Sunak visited the Dog and Bacon Pub in Horsham on Monday, June 10. Pictured with Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Horsham MP Jeremy Quin. Photo: SR Staff/National World / SR2406104
Rishi Sunak visited the Dog and Bacon Pub in Horsham on Monday, June 10. Pictured with Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne and Horsham MP Jeremy Quin. Photo: SR Staff/National World / SR2406104

Sussex is traditionally a true blue county but the Tories have lost control of every borough and district council here.

Of the 16 seats held, they are predicted to lose half of them. Including seats like Horsham, where the Conservatives have been in control for over half a century

The PM was asked why so many voters turning away from his party and what's gone wrong in Sussex.

He responded: "The only thing that matters, besides of all the predictions, is the General Election on July 4th. We are the only party that is willing to take bold action and has a clear plan. We will secure a future for everyone - not just in Sussex but across the country.

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Rishi Sunak spoke to the local media at the Dog and Bacon Pub in Horsham. Photo: SR Staff/National World / SR2406104Rishi Sunak spoke to the local media at the Dog and Bacon Pub in Horsham. Photo: SR Staff/National World / SR2406104
Rishi Sunak spoke to the local media at the Dog and Bacon Pub in Horsham. Photo: SR Staff/National World / SR2406104

"We are going to fight hard for every single vote. We have got a fantastic set of local candidates here who are delivering for their community. Just today I have been talking to residents about our record in bringing down crime and supporting local communities. It's something people recognise the Conservatives can deliver for the area.”

Why MPs have stood down in Sussex

Sussex is guaranteed to get at least five new MPs after voters go to the polls in the upcoming general election.

Tory MPs Henry Smith (Crawley); Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton); Tim Loughton, (East Worthing & Shoreham) and Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle) were among those to stand down.

The Prime Minister was asked how he felt to see such experienced members of Parliament stand down before the general election and if it represents a loss in confidence in the party's prospects.

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He replied: “MPs stand down for all sorts of reasons, including personal reasons. I respect their decisions. Both in Tim and Hugh's case, I pay tribute to their record of service. Hugh in government but both of them in local communities.

“I had the pleasure to visit Tim not that long ago in his constituency and they will of course be sorely missed.

"We have fantastic candidates standing across Sussex. What people in this election are focused on is choice and the choice is clear that we are a party that has a clear plan.

"We are working on economy, with inflation returning back to normal, wages rising, taxes being cut. Why would people want to put that progress at risk? We can build on that foundation. We can continue to cut people's taxes and deliver financial security.”

Sewage dumping pledge

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The shadow environment secretary, Steve Reed MP, visited Southwick in April to talk about sewage and ‘Labour’s plans to crack down on polluting water companies’.

Mr Reed said Labour would ‘crack down’ on illegal sewage dumping and put offending water companies ‘under special measures’. Bosses who break the rules would ‘end up in the dock’, the MP said.

He added: “Last year, we had the worst levels of illegal sewage dumping that’s ever been recorded.

"It means you can’t take your kids into the sea as they’ll get sick. It’s damaging tourism.

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“Residents have asked for direct accountability and they are right. Labour would make the water bosses personally and criminally liable if they allow their companies to illegally dump sewage in our rivers and waterways.”

Mr Sunak was asked for his viewpoint on the topic.

He said: “The first thing to say is we inherited a situation where virtually no storm overflows were even monitored. We fixed that so 100 per cent of overflows are monitored so we know where the problems are.

"We think it's important that these issues are grappled with and resolved. We are doing three things: Record amount of investment to improve on infrastructure; regulation (for example dealing with wet wipes and chemicals) and most importantly on enforcement.

"We are holding water companies to account for the unacceptable levels of discharge that we've seen. We have given regulators the power to levy unlimited penalties but also to link bonus and dividend payments that these water companies to environmental performance as well as increasing the number of inspections that Environment Agency carries out.”

Young voters not being taken seriously

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The Prime Minister was asked how he will change young voters’ viewpoint that they are not being taken seriously by politicians.

He responded: “The first week of the campaign, we announced two policies specifically for young people. Firstly a form of National Service. I’ve had an enormous amount of conversations with people about that.

"That will be transformational for our country, giving young people skills and opportunities to set them up for life. Fostering a culture of service, making our society more cohesive but also strengthening our country's resilience and security.

“I have spoken to so many parents excited about the prospect of their children doing this form of national service. There's a choice, where a small percentage will choose to do a military component. The vast majority of people will do a civic resilience roles, helping in their community.

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"Another policy is to curb rip off degrees letting young people down. We will use that money to fund higher quality apprenticeships.

"I’m really inspired by those who say doing an apprenticeship is the best decision they've ever made. They are set up for life in any conceivable career you can think of – earning and learning at the same time.

"That's the type of country I want to build as PM. A country where every young person has the skills they need to succeed regardless of their background.”

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