Rishi Sunak has Banbury's problem with his own district hospital, he says on visit to town

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Rishi Sunak has the same problem as Banbury – a small district general hospital with a midwife-only unit - he shared on a visit to the town today (Tuesday).

The Prime Minister was asked by the Banbury Guardian if a Conservative government – after Thursday’s General Election – would give Banbury any hope of restoring acute services, and in particular full maternity unit, to the town.

He was on a packed visit to the marginal constituency – now Banbury with Chipping Norton, Charlbury and villages.

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Mr Sunak said: “I understand what it's like to be reliant on a small hospital in a rural area because I have one of the smallest in the country (the Friarage, Northallerton) in one of the most rural parts of the country in North Yorkshire.

Rishi Sunak and Victoria Prentis talk to local journalists about voters' choices on the PM's visit to Banbury two days before the General ElectionRishi Sunak and Victoria Prentis talk to local journalists about voters' choices on the PM's visit to Banbury two days before the General Election
Rishi Sunak and Victoria Prentis talk to local journalists about voters' choices on the PM's visit to Banbury two days before the General Election

"Victoria (Prentis) and I have spent our entire parliamentary career talking about the Horton and the Friarage and I've seen what Victoria has done. Not only is there now more investment going into the Horton, services are expanding. We compare notes and that's what we are doing at the Friarage,” said Mr Sunak.

"The Conservatives understand rural communities in a way Labour never will. We understand the role smaller rural hospitals play,and we've found a way to make sure they could provide more services to people, and that will always be the case under the Conservatives.”

Mrs Prentis elaborated on greater diagnostics, chemotherapy and opthalmic services at the Horton and reinforced her commitment to a return of obstetrics. However she did not offer new hope over maternity.

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""I agree, we need obstetrics back,” she said. “The trust says they've had difficulty recruiting the required numbers of obstetricians (maternity consultants). I know that the Prime Minister is very familiar with this issue, because it's exactly the same in his constituency,” she said.

Rishi Sunak helps in packing boxes of Christmas skin care gift sets with Conservative candidate for Banbury Victoria Prentis, at the DCS distribution centreRishi Sunak helps in packing boxes of Christmas skin care gift sets with Conservative candidate for Banbury Victoria Prentis, at the DCS distribution centre
Rishi Sunak helps in packing boxes of Christmas skin care gift sets with Conservative candidate for Banbury Victoria Prentis, at the DCS distribution centre

"I've obviously read the Keep the Horton General dossier (of birth traumas) in full. I was aware of some of the issues before. I will follow up with the with the new ones. I've met already with the Care Quality Commission to discuss it. And if I'm elected on Thursday, I will absolutely hammer on on this. There is no way that I will ever give up fighting for maternity and the Horton, as we need it. I will carry on campaigning to my dying breath for maternity at the Horton. I will never take my eye off this as an issue.”

Mr Sunak told local journalists Thursday’s election gives voters a choice about the future of the country that will have ‘big consequences for everyone and their family finances’.

“The straightforward choice is, if you want tax cuts, if you want your pension protected and you want to prevent a Labour super majority, you've got to vote Conservative. Vote for anyone else, it’s going to get you the opposite.” he said.

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Asked by Banbury FM why voters should put their faith in the Conservatives again with the Horton issue, potholes and migrants being put up in hotels, Mr Sunak said: “It's clearly wrong (that) taxpayers are spending millions of pounds housing illegal migrants in hotels across the country. We've closed 150 hotels (and) I've got a long term plan to deal with that problem – we’re going to have flights going to Rwanda so we have a deterrent, so if people come to our country illegally, they won't be able to stay; they'll be removed to a safe country.

Rishi Sunak and Conservative Party Candidate for Banbury Victoria Prentis in a tractor at Wykham Park Farm on a visit hosted by John and Julia ColegraveRishi Sunak and Conservative Party Candidate for Banbury Victoria Prentis in a tractor at Wykham Park Farm on a visit hosted by John and Julia Colegrave
Rishi Sunak and Conservative Party Candidate for Banbury Victoria Prentis in a tractor at Wykham Park Farm on a visit hosted by John and Julia Colegrave

"I can say to everyone in Banbury, if you, like me, think the situation is wrong and people shouldn't be able to stay here in our country, then you've got to vote Conservative, because we're the only ones who can deliver a plan that will mean they don't get to stay in our country - they're removed. If Keir Starmer is your Prime Minister, he's been crystal clear, all those migrants queuing up in Calais are going to be on our streets.

"So if you want migrants on planes to Rwanda rather than your local communities, you've got to vote Conservative. If you want continued support for local rural hospitals like the Horton, it's only the Conservatives and only Victoria who have got a track record of delivering.”

Following a question from Bauer Media, Mr Sunak said those wanting green spaces protected in Oxfordshire and support for farmers in a tough economic climate, should vote Conservative.

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“We will protect green spaces and protect the green belt, because we think that's an important part of the fabric of what makes our countryside and our communities such special places to live.

Rishi Sunak talks to employees at DCS distribution centre, Banbury on a visit two days before the July 4 General Election. Picture by Andy Green of Banbury FMRishi Sunak talks to employees at DCS distribution centre, Banbury on a visit two days before the July 4 General Election. Picture by Andy Green of Banbury FM
Rishi Sunak talks to employees at DCS distribution centre, Banbury on a visit two days before the July 4 General Election. Picture by Andy Green of Banbury FM

“Labour are going to impose top down targets, riding roughshod over the concerns of local communities. And they have been crystal clear their own words, they will bulldoze over the countryside, concrete over the green belt.

"I don't go back to North Yorkshire unless I'm getting our farming policy right. There were just 87 words about farming and the Labour manifesto. In contrast, we're going to put an extra billion pounds into the farming budget in the next parliament. We're going to focus that exclusively on food production. And we're going to have, for the first time in law, a food security target to make sure we focus on food security and food production."

Responding to the threat of a split vote with Reform, Mr Sunak said people should vote for Victoria Prentis.

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"Not only is she an incredible champion for Banbury... but a vote for reform is a vote for Keir Starmer in Number 10 with a super majority. (He will) whack up your taxes and make us a soft touch for Europe when it comes to illegal migration.”

The latest Ipsos poll gives Labour a 20-point lead over the Conservatives with just over a third of voters saying they may change their mind before polling day.