In this exclusive interview with Premier Christianity, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak explains why he believes Christians should back the Conservatives in the election, and responds to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s criticisms over his Rwanda policy


Source: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto

Why should Christians vote Conservative on 4 July?

Christians should vote Conservative because my party’s values align with theirs. I am proud that Conservatives and Christians share many of the same values – the importance of family, fairness, openness, and opportunity for all across society.

Whether it’s supporting faith schools or defending religious freedoms, Conservatives recognise the profound importance of faith in our society and believe it to be a force for good.  

You’ve spoken a little about your own faith. What does that look like day to day? Do you pray? 

Faith is a deeply important part of my life. As a practising Hindu, I often seek solace, comfort and inspiration from my faith, especially during the challenging moments that come as part of this job. Indeed, my upbringing, shaped by my faith and my wonderful parents, taught me always to do my duty and not fret about the outcome as long as I conduct myself faithfully. This principle, known as ‘Dharma’ in my faith, guides my approach to public service and how I live my life. It’s a lesson that I hope to pass on to my daughters. 

There’s a general feeling that freedom of expression for Christians has been eroded in recent years. Since you’ve been PM we’ve seen Christians arrested while silently praying near to abortion clinics and there is fear that people praying for those with unwanted same-sex attraction within a church could soon face prosecution. How would you allay the fears of those who feel their ability to practice their faith is disappearing? 

I understand these concerns and want to assure everyone that as Prime Minister, I consider freedom of expression and religion as fundamental rights that must be protected and preserved. It is unacceptable for anyone to face persecution or discrimination for practicing their faith. We will uphold these rights rigorously, ensuring that Christians and all faith communities can practice their beliefs freely. 

Conservatives recognise the profound importance of faith in our society

The Archbishop of Canterbury Most Rev Justin Welby said your Rwanda deportation scheme was “morally unacceptable”. What’s your response? 

I respect Archbishop Welby’s views, but I disagree with him. Our policy on immigration is designed to uphold the rule of law and ensure fairness to the people of this country. Let’s start from first principles. This country is incredibly welcoming, inclusive and tolerant. Just look at my story. My grandparents came to these shores with little more than ambition, resilience, and determination. Here I am, just two generations later, as your Prime Minister. I don’t think this would be possible in any other country in the world, which speaks volumes about our warmth and openness towards newcomers.

However, people rightly want to know that the system is fair and that their government, not criminal gangs, decide who gets to come here. It is not right that people can arrive in this country illegally and stay. It rewards the vile smugglers, puts migrants’ lives at risk and corrodes trust in our system. I profoundly believe having a working deterrent is the compassionate thing to do – it will save lives and ensure we can continue to be generous to those in genuine need. 

In recent years there’s been a number of instances where your integrity or the integrity of others within your party have been questioned, most recently the betting on election date. What would you say to Christians who feel they can’t vote Conservative because of what’s perceived to be a lack of morality within the party? 

Integrity is enormously important to me. When issues have arisen in my party, I have taken decisive action. I was incredibly angry when I found out about people betting and if anyone is found to have acted improperly, they should face the full force of the law and will be booted out of my party.

I would ask voters to judge me on my commitment to integrity and contrast it with the record of my opponent, Keir Starmer. This is a man who backed Jeremy Corbyn in two elections and said he would make a “great Prime Minister” despite leading an institutionally antisemitic party. Keir Starmer now disavows Jeremy Corbyn, as he disavows countless policies and positions which he supported only a couple of years ago, because it’s no longer convenient for him to do so. Contrast that with my record of being upfront and honest with people even when it’s tough because I know it to be the right thing to do. To me, that is integrity. 

How open are you to criticism from the Church? 

I value the Church’s long-standing role in society and respect its views and right to express them directly. I welcome dialogue with its leaders and community members – it’s through open discussion and honest debate that we make progress, and I will always champion that. 

Premier Christianity has requested interviews with all of the major party leaders, and published an interview with Keir Starmer yesterday. See here for more election coverage