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Sunak claims ‘anti-motorist’ policies are against British values as Tories want to limit 20mph speed zones – UK politics live

Good morning. The Conservative party conference starts on Sunday, and this is always a big moment when a governing party can reset, redefine itself and chart a new agenda for the next 12 months. But this time the pressure for a successful reboot is much more intense than usual, for three reasons.

First, it’s Rishi Sunak’s first party conference as leader. Second, the political model he has adopted over the first 12 months (steady “competence”, focusing on the five priorities) has totally failed (if success is judged by electoral performance, which unfortunately is the metric that matters most to MPs). And, third, with the election due in about a year, this is probably a last-chance conference. It’s all or nothing.

That means it will be fascinating to see how Sunak repositions himself, and, in a tremendous scoop last night, Peter Walker provided part of the answer. He is going to put the Conservative party on the side of drivers, with particular measures to curb the extension of 20mph speed limit zones.

The story has, rightly, been widely followed.

In the light of what we know now, it is worth looking again at what Sunak said yesterday during his marathon pre-conference regional TV and radio interview round. The Welsh government has recently introduced a de facto 20mph speed limit for residential areas which Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, criticised as “absolutely insane”. Asked if he agreed, Sunak told ITV Cymru Wales:

I think imposing a blanket 20 mile-an-hour speed limit on areas is absolutely not right. It doesn’t reflect people’s priorities.

People are dependent on their cars for their day-to-day journeys and these kind of blanket bans aren’t the right proportionate approach.

But also it comes on top of this other policy not to build any new roads as well.

You take these things together, it seems like an attack on motorists and that’s rightly received the opposition that it deserves.

When it was put to Sunak that the 20mph speed limit in Wales was not a blanket ban, because there are exemptions, the PM went further, saying policies like this were not in line with the values of the British people.

He replied:

You’ve seen the opposition from people in Wales to this policy. Look, it’s not alone – a Labour mayor in London imposing the Ulez charge, £12.50 on ordinary families when they’re just trying to get their kids to school, take them to football practice, go weekly shopping or, you know, get to work.

Those aren’t the right values of the British people who do rely on their cars to get around and we should be supportive of them.

I will post more on this as the day goes on.

Otherwise, the only thing in the diary is Keir Starmer speaking at a Labour rally in Rutherglen and Hamilton West, where the byelection takes place next week, at 10.30am. But there might be more reaction to the IFS saying that “it is likely that this parliament will mark a decisive and permanent shift to a higher-tax economy”. And, at some point before it airs at 7pm, GB News may release extracts from its interview with Suella Braverman, the home secretary. With Andrew Neil no longer working for the channel, Braverman will be subject to intense, hard-hitting and forensic questioning from – er, Lee Anderson, the Tory party deputy chairman.

To be fair, Anderson is probably the only person in her party likely to criticise Braverman’s immigration speech this week on the grounds it was a bit soft.

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