'I would love a day off,' Rishi Sunak jokes as he shuts down idea of extra bank holiday

28 May 2024, 13:31 | Updated: 28 May 2024, 13:50

Mr Sunak joked that he wanted a day off during the Q&A.
Mr Sunak joked that he wanted a day off during the Q&A. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Rishi Sunak has joked that he wants a day off after shutting down the idea of an extra bank holiday.

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Mr Sunak was pushed to make St George's Day a bank holiday during a Q&A on a visit to Staffordshire.

When asked why Brits were not allowed an extra day off, the PM said: "We all love to have days off, right. Let's be honest, I would definitely love a day off, I can tell you that.

"But there's lots of other things that come along with bank holidays and the impact they have which we need to take into account.

"But the thing that you touched on though, which is important, is that taking a moment to celebrate and be proud of who we are, and our country. And that is an incredible thing and whether we need bank holiday for that as a separate thing.

"But we should never be ashamed to be proud of our identity, of who we are as a country.

"And actually what we've seen over the last several months in particular, is sadly there are forces who are trying to divide us, who are trying to emphasise all the differences. And I think that's sad, and it's wrong."

Read more: Sunak accuses Labour of not offering 'single new idea' as Starmer brands National Service plan a 'teenage Dad's Army'

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It comes after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer previously said that a new bank holiday was not currently possible due to the economy.

Campaigners have increased calls for the day off to mark St George's Day, arguing that the UK has less bank holidays a year compared to other industrialised nations.

Rishi Sunak pressed on making St George’s Day a bank holiday

Mr Sunak also addressed national service during the Q&A, saying it would keep young people "out of trouble".

"Whatever you might think of this idea, I hope you can see it is bold," he said.

"It is transformational for our country."

He said: "I think all of us have felt that our society could do with being more cohesive, right, reminding us we're all on the same side, bringing us together, and this will do that.

"It will foster that culture of service and make our society more cohesive.

"But it also, in a very uncertain time, will make our country more safe, so in years to come, and we have thousands and thousands of people who have been trained and things that are practically helpful for our country's resilience or our security.

"And remember, there's a choice, so if people want to they can do the military component of this, but it will be very competitive and selective.

"And for everyone else, there'll be civic roles, search and rescue, first aid, lifeboats, helping elderly people, but all of these things will just contribute to our country's resilience and our security.

Rishi Sunak takes part in a Q&A session with employees during a visit to a pottery factory.
Rishi Sunak takes part in a Q&A session with employees during a visit to a pottery factory. Picture: Alamy

When asked by LBC about how he planned to find around 150 candidates to stand for the Conservatives in the July 4 general election, Mr Sunak said: "I'm highly confident as we have in every election, we have candidates everywhere, we've well established processes in place for that, there'll be no problem at all, we've got lots of people who want to be Conservative candidates and lots of great MPs like Jonathan (Gullis) who are standing as well."

Addressing potential sanctions on Israel following the bombardment of Rafah, he went on to say: "Look, the scenes that we've seen are deeply distressing and what we need is an immediate pause in the fighting so we can get aid in and get the hostages out and use that to build towards a more sustainable ceasefire.

"I've been very clear in all my conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu that while Israel does have a right to defend itself, it has to take precautions to protect civilian lives and that's something I've reiterated to him in every conversation I've had."

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