Rishi Sunak’s keynote conference speech was an attempt “to create parallels” with Conservative legendary leader Margaret Thatcher, a former First Minister has claimed.
According to ex-Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster his rousing words were aimed at evoking a comparison with himself and Lady Thatcher.
Ms Foster told GB News the Prime Minister drew parallels between his own upbringing as the son of a pharmacist and Lady Thatcher’s childhood growing up the daughter of a grocer. She also observed he quoted the Iron Lady on a number of occasions.
The Northern Irish politician said of Mr Sunak’s conference speech: “I thought it was well delivered for a man who’s not naturally an orator. I thought it was hugely interesting that he invoked the spirit of Margaret Thatcher.
“On a number of occasions he quoted Margaret Thatcher.
“He also made reference to the fact that she was a grocer’s daughter, he was a pharmacist’s son, he was trying to make those parallels with her.”
During the interview in Britain’s Newsroom with Andrew Pierce and Bev Turner, Mr Pierce asked Ms Foster if she saw Mr Sunak in “the same mode as the great radical Margaret Thatcher”.
The former Democratic Unionist Party replied that in her opinion the PM was not “in that mould at all” but that he was trying to appeal to grassroots members among whom Thatcher is still “hugely popular”.
Ms Foster added: “But you cannot say that you’re imbibing the spirit of Margaret Thatcher and then bringing out this phased progressive ban on cigarettes because she simply would never have brought that in.”
“So what do you think emboldens him to make those sorts of decisions, which is in state overreach in my opinion? How is how is he able to do that in the way that Margaret Thatcher just would never have?”
During his conference speech, in which he also signalled the end of the northern leg of HS2, Mr Sunak outlined plans to introduce a new law that would stop children who turn 14 this year and those younger from ever legally buying cigarettes or tobacco in England.
The Government has called the move the “most significant public health intervention in a generation”. It is hoped it will prevent tens of thousands of deaths and save the NHS billions of pounds.
Anyone born on or after January 1, 2009 – in effect anyone who is 14 or younger now – will not legally be able to buy cigarettes in England during their lives, as the smoking age is raised by one year every year, meaning they will never catch up.
Mr Sunak said the move would mean “a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette and that they and their generation can grow up smoke-free”.
The Government hopes it will lead to up to 1.7 million fewer people smoking by 2075, and has the potential for smoking to be phased out completely among young people as early as 2040.