Rishi Sunak made a five-point pledge in a speech to mark the new year
Rishi Sunak made a five-point pledge in a speech to mark the new year AFP News

Recession-bound Britain will emerge from its winter of discontent with economic growth, lower inflation and shorter hospital waiting lists, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed on Wednesday.

Issuing a five-point list of promises for the new year, Sunak also vowed to bring down the national debt, and pass new legislation to stop boatloads of migrants crossing the Channel from France.

"No tricks, no ambiguity: we're either delivering for you or we're not," he said in a speech.

"We will rebuild trust in politics through action or not at all," added Sunak, who came to power in October on the back of the tumultuous premierships of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

"So I ask you to judge us on the effort that we put in and the results that we achieve."

Sunak did not offer any details, or on how he will end a wave of strikes including by nurses and train drivers that has stoked a sense of national paralysis this winter.

But the prime minister, battling to rescue the Conservatives from a dismal poll standing ahead of the next general election, said better times were ahead as he vowed to halve double-digit inflation this year.

"The country will be the judge of whether we as a government are straining every sinew to focus on their priorities and deliver meaningful progress," he said.

Sunak, a self-confessed numbers geek, outlined one ambition to ensure mathematics education for every child between the ages of 16 and 18, to bring Britain into line with other advanced economies.

But the speech was dismissed by the opposition Labour party as vague and unambitious, given the scale of Britain's challenges after Brexit and the Covid pandemic.

Recent media coverage has highlighted hospitals at breaking point, with patients forced to wait days for admission and a lack of ambulances to reach people in need of life-saving treatment.

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner called Sunak the "do-nothing prime minister".

"For weeks this speech was hyped up as his big vision -- now he's delivered it, the country is entitled to ask: is that it?" she said.