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Rishi Sunak will argue that Britain is safer under the Conservatives against the backdrop of two escalating conflicts likely to dominate the week.

In the last few days, the prime minister has broken with US President Joe Biden by insisting the UK should continue to supply arms to Israel.

It comes as Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to mount another massive military operation in the southern Gaza town of Rafah against warnings from the US and UK.

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Meanwhile, there are fears in Whitehall that Russia could mount an operation on Kharkiv by the end of the week to retake Ukraine‘s second-largest city.

Both operations could trigger wider repercussions.

Amid this worsening global outlook, the Conservatives want to highlight what they say is the gap between Tory and Labour pledges on military spending.

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Politics latest: Cameron warns Israel against Rafah invasion

Rishi Sunak at the Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire on 3 May. Pic: AP
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Rishi Sunak at the Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire on 3 May. Pic: AP

Sunak announced last month that a future Tory government would ensure 2.5% of GDP will be spent on the military by 2030, while Labour says it will do it when the economic conditions allow.

After the initial announcement, Sunak wants to ensure he gets full public credit for the big spending commitment while pushing Labour on its failure to match the promise.

Labour says that the Tory spending plan does not add up.

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Israel arms embargo ‘not a wise path’

On Monday, Sunak will use a set-piece speech to mount the argument that there is a need for security at home and abroad in an ever-increasingly dangerous world and describe the country as being at a crossroads at the next general election.

In a further major political dividing line, Labour has broken with the government and called this weekend for a suspension of arms to Israel, placing it alongside the United States.

However the Tory government is holding firm, arguing that now is not the time and that Britain only supplies a small amount of the munitions used by Israel.

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Some people inside government suggest that the US government position is driven by President Biden’s need to take a tougher position to shore up votes in the upcoming election race.

Sunak’s Monday speech is one part of a set of security-themed announcements by the government, following Lord Cameron’s media blitz at the weekend.

On Monday, deputy foreign secretary Andrew Mitchell will address a Tory-leaning think tank, while on Tuesday Defence Secretary Grant Shapps will make a speech, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt speaking on Friday.

Also, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden will lead a trade delegation this week to Saudi Arabia.

Although boosting trade will be the focus, Saudi Arabia, like Qatar, is one of the backchannels used by the UK to deliver messages to Hamas.

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Could Trump’s win nix SEC crypto suits? Critics say he’s ‘pandering’ for votes

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Could Trump’s win nix SEC crypto suits? Critics say he’s ‘pandering’ for votes

One crypto lawyer thinks a Donald Trump election win would revert some SEC crypto lawsuits, but others note he hasn’t always kept campaign promises.

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Sunak’s Number 10 is much better at keeping secrets than others

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Sunak's Number 10 is much better at keeping secrets than others

Suddenly, at election time, political predictions become so much harder and riskier. Everything changes in a campaign, not least the news cycle.

That’s my excuse, at any rate, for failing to foresee the announcement of a general election in last week’s Politics at Jack and Sam’s.

There were a few clues – and one magisterial tweet from Financial Times journalist Lucy Fisher – but we were deaf to the signals.

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Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak speaks to journalists on the plane on their way to Staffordshire, Britain May 24, 2024. HENRY NICHOLLS/Pool via REUTERS
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Pic: Reuters

In this week’s Politics At Jack and Sam’s podcast, we reflect how this Number 10 – in big contrast to the last two – is much better at keeping secrets.

But the moment an election is called, the way information gets out alters and everything becomes trickier.

Follow live – general election latest:
Tories attack Starmer’s ‘stamina’ as PM shuns team to campaign

Normally political news emerges in so many different ways. There’s parliament. Government announcements. Questions, written and oral. MPs themselves, including ministers, wandering the corridors of the Commons where journalists can go stopping for a gossip.

All of that disappears at election time. Keeping things secret from the other side matters a lot more, while decisions and information is held by a much tighter group of people.

That’s why it’s not really feasible to do a weekly look ahead political podcast – and we’re responding by going daily. More details to follow.

Rishi Sunak‘s allies are quite upfront that the timing of the general election was a finely balanced argument and you can make a case both ways.

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Sunak defends wet election announcement

One of the big things that motivated Sunak to go now was that he was doing – in his view – big things; welfare announcements, defence spending commitments, NHS workforce plan.

But they found people weren’t listening and the polls weren’t moving. They weren’t “getting a hearing”. Which they put down to people being switched off from politics and apathy being high – and so the decision to call an election was motivated by that.

The other big consideration was that from around March, early April they were getting internal economic indicators, suggesting the economic conditions – things like inflation, interest rates – might be favourable sufficiently such that they could base a campaign around.

Fascinatingly, they say there wasn’t a “decision” meeting two months ago or even three weeks ago – the move was more like the tide coming in slowly.

Although Labour were caught on the hop – some staff had booked leave, were privately confident there was nothing coming this summer and the Labour campaign bus is not yet ready – candidates claim to be pretty happy with what’s happened so far.

However, the biggest challenge of the next five weeks will be seeing whether they can respond to the pressure of a campaign, and the relentless desire for more of everything.

Currently the narrative is that Sunak had a miserable start – in a few weeks, pictures of the PM in the rain could be a plucky fighter battling against the odds.

This feels unlikely right now, but having been through the 2017 campaign, we know anything can happen.

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Trump promises to release Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected

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Trump promises to release Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected

Former United States President Donald Trump vows to free Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht if re-elected.

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