Rishi Sunak's clash with BBC journalist Nick Robinson: 'You really think you deserve another chance?'

Rishi Sunak is a candidate for the British general elections, set to take place on 4 July 2024. It was in this context that he accepted an interview with BBC journalist Nick Robinson, but things didn't turn out as planned.

UK general election Rishi Sunak candidate interview BBC grilling
© Alison Jackson / Getty Images
UK general election Rishi Sunak candidate interview BBC grilling

During an interview with BBC journalist Nick Robinson, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was grilled on several important topics, such as why he left D-Day celebrations early, but also on his stance on immigration, sky-high inflation rates, and the terrible state of the National Health Service, something journalist Kate Garraway also denounced. Here's what you should know.

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Rishi Sunak announced surprise snap election for July

On 22 May 2024, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took everyone by surprise when he made a solemn speech in front of his home, under pouring rain. The politician announced he was calling a snap election on 4 July 2024, to elect a new Prime Minister in case the Tories do not win. He aims to win his Conservative party a fifth term in Office.

Following this announcement, the Parliament has been shut down and all MPs are now campaigning for their seat. A few days before this announcement, British citizens were informed that inflation rates had fallen to their lowest rate in almost three years. According to him, this was 'proof that the plan and priorities' his government set out were working.

This will be the UK's first July election since 1947. This announcement did not go down well among Tories as some MPs told the BBC:

I just don't understand it. The economy is improving. Why not give that more time to bed in?

Another one argued:

Labour MPs are happy. We're not. That tells a story.

Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Opposition, also reacted to the surprise announcement:

Give the Tories five more years and things will only get worse. Britain deserves better than that.

Rishi Sunak has been accused of a 'cut and run'

Rishi Sunak has been giving many interviews to strengthen his position, answer questions many have been asking, and promote his plans if the Tories win.

One such interview was with BBC journalist Nick Robinson, who was not so gentle with the Prime Minister. Robinson brought up his hasty election announcement, and accused Sunak of a 'cut and run' by his decision to call a snap election on 4 July 2024. Rishi Sunak was also asked whether the Tories 'deserve a second chance', after 'all the broken promises' made by his government since he moved into 10 Downing Street almost two years ago, on 25 October 2022.

After 14 years, five prime ministers, Boris Johnson lying about parties, Liz Truss almost crashing the economy and you bunking off D-Day, after all the broken promises, you really think you deserve another chance?

During the interview, the Prime Minister admitted to some defeats, saying he recognizes that it has become harder to buy a home in the last 14 years as his party has been leading the country. He also recognized that NHS waiting lists are still going up and people now have to wait months to even see a GP, and sometimes years to have an official date for their necessary surgery.

His D-Day celebrations were cut short

Another topic that brought up the heat during the interview was how he approached the D-Day celebrations.

On 6 June 2024, France and its Allies celebrated D-Day, which sealed their win for World War II. The event is seen as an important celebration of friendship within these countries, and the UK has historically played a crucial part in it. However, this year, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was seen leaving early, and missing an entire chunk of the day while he was giving a TV interview, which many have qualified as 'his biggest misstep yet in a faltering election campaign', according to The Guardian.

Amid heavy criticism, he was forced to apologise for his behaviour, which he reiterated during the interview. After Nick Robinson asked him whether or not it was his 'basic duty' to be present for all D-Day celebrations, the PM spoke directly to potential voters, asking them to forgive him:

I’ve apologised unreservedly for the mistake and I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.

The interview with Nick Robinson was tense

The BBC journalist will interview seven party leaders over the next couple of weeks, and Rishi Sunak was the first to get the grilling. When asked about his policy to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, the Prime Minister answered that no one had been sent there yet, but that he's got a plan. The journalist then snapped back:

You cut and run. You had the election before and now we have to take it on trust. You’re constantly promising what you will do, but what you haven’t done so far.

He then compared the Prime Minister to a gambler, who never quite pays his debt off. He explained:

You sound to me like a guy in a pub who borrows 50 quid and he borrowed it three years ago and he keeps saying, ‘don’t worry, I’ll pay you back’ and then when you confront him in the pub, he says, ‘I’ll pay you tomorrow,’ you wouldn’t believe him, would you?

A tough interviewer to say the least. Keir Starmer will next on the hot seat, but let's take a look at who Nick Robinson is.

Who is Nick Robinson?

Nick Robinson is a 60-year-old journalist who has been working with the BBC for decades. He is a former political editor for both the BBC and ITV. Since the beginning of his career, around forty years ago, he has worked in broadcast journalism for television and radio. He is the current presenter of Radio 4's Today alongside fellow BBC journalist Mishal Husain. Nick Robinson has always wanted to be a journalist, mostly thanks to his grandfather, who was a fan of the BBC radio stations. He explained:

I wanted to be a journalist when I saw my grandfather – a German Jew who fled the Nazis and later had to flee the Communists who’d taken over China where he found refuge – listen with reverence to the news from the BBC.

He spoke out about his health issues

The BBC journalist was diagnosed with a rare form of slow-growing cancer back in 2015. Although the operation to remove his tumour, located in his throat, was successful, he was left with a paralysed vocal cord, which badly impacted his voice. He worked extremely hard with the help of a speech therapist to get his voice back, and he has paid tribute to his therapist on air:

It has been an extraordinary year, and really is a story about the heroic work that many medical professionals do.

Read more:

Rishi Sunak: How much does he earn as Prime Minister of the UK?

Rishi Sunak appears to back JK Rowling as she criticises new trans protection law

Akshata Murty: Everything you need to know about Rishi Sunak's wife

Sources used:

Telegraph: Huw Edwards is biggest mover among BBC top earners

Mirror: Who is Nick Robinson? BBC's politics guru - and how Claudia Winkleman changed his life

Huffington Post: 'You Cut And Run': Rishi Sunak Clashes With BBC's Nick Robinson In Tetchy TV Interview

BBC: Election 2024

BBC: Rishi Sunak announces UK general election for Thursday 4 July

The Guardian: Rishi Sunak apologises for leaving D-day events early to record TV interview

Why has Rishi Sunak been reported to the police? Why has Rishi Sunak been reported to the police?