On Thursday, Rishi Sunak faced a similar fate as Liz Truss, who was famously taken down by clever local radio journalists, who were even recognized with an award for their efforts.
On Thursday, the prime minister of the United Kingdom was met with a challenging series of inquiries from local radio hosts on various topics, including transportation and deteriorating schools. This opportunity for the hosts to question him comes after his previous predecessor, Truss, struggled through a disastrous round of interviews on local radio last year. In fact, some of these hosts were even recognized with a broadcasting award for their effective interrogation.
The regional media round has become a regular event at pre-party conferences for British prime ministers, as Downing Street aims to reach local media outlets with the PM’s messages and demonstrate a government that is aware of common issues.
However, as Sunak gets ready to confront his loyal party members at the Conservative conference this weekend, he is under close examination for the future of High Speed 2. This ambitious railway project has faced setbacks due to increasing expenses and changes in its original design.
Sunak’s potential plan to eliminate the Birmingham to Manchester portion of the project has caused concern, but he did not confirm or deny this decision, which disappointed some hosts.
“Is the HS2 route between Birmingham and Manchester being discontinued?” Inquired Anna Jameson of BBC Radio Manchester.
“I am not making predictions about future events – we have already started working on the current phase of the project and are making progress,” Sunak responded, before trying to redirect the conversation to his government’s efforts to improve road conditions and fix potholes.
The presenter responded sharply, stating that the focus should not be on potholes. The current topic of interest across the country is the future of HS2, and yet you still cannot give a clear answer. You are the one in charge.
Andrew Peach, a presenter on BBC Radio Berkshire, expressed to the Prime Minister that it is not appropriate to claim uncertainty about the future of HS2. Babs Michel, a presenter on BBC Radio Three Counties, questioned Sunak about the purpose of HS2 if the plans continue to be altered.
Michel expressed that having a train line from Birmingham to a station on the outskirts of London called Old Oak Common would not be beneficial for Buckinghamshire. He was referring to proposed plans for HS2 to stop at this station.
Sunak stated that the upcoming station will have significant links to central London, while attempting to maintain the party’s stance on HS2 during their pre-conference.
The prime minister’s last interviewer of the morning, Berkshire’s Peach, playfully inquired if Sunak’s parents believe he has a “real job,” crushing any chance of a smooth ending to the softball game.
“That’s an excellent question. I am grateful to have grown up in a loving and supportive household,” Sunak responded.