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Rishi Sunak during a visit to Belfast while on the UK General Election campaign trail
Rishi Sunk

Rishi Sunak asked if he’s ‘captaining a sinking ship’ during visit to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter

The British prime minister made a brief trip to Belfast this morning, two days after calling a UK general election.

IN WHAT HAS been described as a “torturous Titanic exchange”, British Rishi Sunak was today asked if he is the “captain of a sinking ship going into this election” during a visit to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

Sunak called for a UK general election on Tuesday, with voting to take place on 4 July.

He has since gone on a whirlwind tour which took him to Belfast this morning, before jetting off to the West Midlands this afternoon.

Speaking to journalists on the flight from Belfast, Sunak said he was “up for the fight” despite a difficult start to the campaign that saw him soaked in Downing Street as he announced the election be mocked today for visiting Belfast’s Titanic Quarter.

The Belfast campaign stop saw Sunak visit an advanced maritime manufacturing facility in the Titanic Quarter.

A reporter from Belfast Live noted that “we are just yards away from where the Titanic was built and designed” and asked Sunak: “Are you the captain of a sinking ship going into this election?”

The Spectator labelled it a “tortuous Titanic exchange” while Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives party, questioned the optics in a “site visit to something famous for sinking”.

Sunak’s response was that the UK government’s “plan is working”.

“Inflation has returned to normal, energy bills are falling, wages have been rising faster than prices for ten months,” said Sunak.

Sunak also defended his government’s track record in the region, insisting that he cared deeply about people in Northern Ireland and was optimistic about its future.

The Conservative Party only runs a small number of candidates in Northern Ireland and Sunak denied that his visit to the region was a waste of time, pointing to his efforts to restore the powersharing institutions which were collapsed when he came into office.

The DUP ended its two-year boycott of the devolved government in Northern Ireland in February after striking a deal with the UK Government over post-Brexit trading arrangements and sovereignty.

Sunak said: “I am here because I care deeply about the people of Northern Ireland and our union. This is the fifth or sixth time I have been here in the time I’ve been Prime Minister.

“I am really optimistic and excited about Northern Ireland’s future.”

Sunak was joined on the tip by Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, who is not seeking re-election at the UK General Election.

Heaton-Harris said he would leave it to other people to “mark his homework” over his time in the region.

He was first appointed as Northern Ireland Secretary by former UK prime minister Liz Truss in 2022 and was retained in the role by Sunak.

-With additional reporting from Press Association

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