Election 2024: Rishi Sunak's interest rate cut tease, & Taylor Swift’s London ...The Standard podcast

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during the launch of the Scottish Conservative party’s General Election manifesto (PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking during the launch of the Scottish Conservative party’s General Election manifesto (PA) (PA Wire)

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Polling day is nearly here - and the Prime Minister has set out sweeteners he hopes will woo Londoners to vote Conservative on 4 July, rather than backing Labour - or switching to Reform, the Liberal Democrats or Greens.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Evening Standard’s political editor, Nicholas Cecil, Sunak teased future interest rate cuts, vowed war on post-Brexit red tape, discussed the future of the City and civil service reform.

He also addressed working problems between Downing Street and London’s Labour mayor Sadiq Khan over housing and crime.

It comes as polling reveals Labour has a 33-point lead in the capital amid signs of an “anti-Conservative” mood which could make it harder for the Tories to hold a string of marginal seats on 4 July.

Part two

Taylor Swift wrapped up a trio of sold-out concerts at Wembley Stadium, where Sir Paul McCartney and Prince William were among guests, before the Eras tour returns to London in August.

On Sunday, she was joined on stage by boyfriend Travis Kelce, for a skit in which the American football star wore a top hat and tails.

Evening Standard commissioning editor and writer El Hunt joins Mark Blunden in the newsroom to discuss music and atmosphere at Swift’s Wembley run and the singer’s fondness for London.

You can listen to the episode in the player above, find us on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s an automated transcript:

From London, this is The Standard podcast and I'm Mark Blunden

Coming up on this show:

Screaming and clapping and stamping on the floor

The whole stadium was shaking

She gets the culture and she loves London

It's Taylor Swift's London Hat Trick with more to come later this summer

But first, polling day is nearly here and the Prime Minister has set out sweeteners he hopes will woo Londoners to vote conservative on July the th rather than backing Labour or switching to reform the Liberal Democrats or Greens

In a wide ranging interview with Evening Standard's political editor, Nicholas Cecil, Sunak teased future interest rate cuts, veiled war on post-Brexit red tape, discussed the future of the city and also civil service reform

He also addressed the working problems between Downing Street and London's Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, over housing and crime

It comes as polling reveals Labour has a point lead in London amid signs of an anticonservative mood, which could make it harder for the Tories to hold onto a string of marginal seats come election day

Nic, what did you grill him on and what do we know about any future interest rate cut plans?

He was surprisingly upbeat for a man whose party is being engulfed by a huge election day betting scandal, whose election campaign is failing to get any momentum and whose party has dismal poll ratings

So he was actually ready to chat and to explain his vision for London

He explained how the Tories think London's housing crisis can be solved

And that's by increasing the density of housing in London to be similar to Paris and Barcelona

And he also dangled, quite interestingly, the prospect of interest rate cuts

And in his words, he said they are on their way

Obviously, we don't know that for sure

The bank giving a % inflation target was met last week

So that suggests that the bank will have increasing route maneuver in coming months

But so he was very, very keen to press that point that life for homeowners and renters may be about to get easier soon

What else did you press him on for London?

Another one was London's nighttime economy

So pubs, restaurant bars, restaurants in London, many of them have not really recovered fully since the COVID pandemic

Many of them are weighed down by heavy debts

There hasn't been the return of so many customers as before the pandemic

And also that many of them are struggling to find enough staff

So the Prime Minister was saying that he would basically get rid of any burdens, regulations and red tape, which are causing problems for the hospitality sector

And that would help them to certainly set up things

And when he talks about red tape, he's talking about planning and licensing laws

But the key issue for many of these businesses is getting the right staff

And one of the problems is that with Brexit, there have been fewer citizens from the EU coming over to work in Britain

And that has caused always one reason for staff shortages

The government's policy on this is we want less immigration and we want to skill up the domestic workforce

So we're trying to encourage more people who are already in Britain to fill these jobs, which is probably a very good policy if you can make it work

But at the moment, the signs are that this isn't working sufficiently to plug these gaps in the labour force

And what of the often tense working relationship between Downing Street and City Hall?

Yes, well, certainly I asked the Prime Minister about a number of areas, including housing crime and whether there could be a more constructive relationship with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

Obviously, he's a Labour politician, we've got a Tory government and the relationship has been pretty fractious

On housing, I asked him, could you kind of have a better relationship?

But the Prime Minister was showing no sign of wanting to kind of build bridges here

He said that it's important that, in his words, that Sadiq Khan has held to account for his record and that he has failed to hit his own housing targets

So, there's no sign of kind of pulling back at all there from government in terms of this head on relationship with the Mayor, which some people see as basically hampering London's economy and other improvements in the capital

Also, interesting developments in London with this latest poll

Yes, well, this was a very interesting poll done by Savanta for the Marlent Institute at Queen Mary University of London

And what it showed, it showed that Labour is points ahead of the Conservatives in London, which is a huge lead

Labour's had these big leads before, they're not new, but this is certainly on the higher

And what was also very interesting is it showed that a lot of, around % of Lib Dem voters are planning to vote Labour

And what the academics at the university are picking up and suggesting is that this shows an antiConservative movement in the capital, that people think it's time for change of government and just want the Tories out

So, they're willing to vote for whichever party they think will beat the Tories in the various constituencies around the capital

The Lib Dems are down, but that may not be so much a reflection on them, but more a reflection on the fact that a lot of Londoners want to see the back of the Conservative government

Let's go to the ads

Coming up, it's the end of an Eras for now, as Taylor Swift triumphs over three nights in the capital with more to come

Welcome back

Now, that was Taylor Swift's American Football star boyfriend, Travis Kelce, on stage at Wembley Stadium last night as the singer wraps up a weekend of concerts

Let's cross to the newsroom and hear from Evening Standard commissioning editor and writer, El Hunt, who was there

We came out of the tube station and Wembley Way was just full of fans in like fluffy cowboy hats, dressed up as different Swift Eras, Feather Boas, all the rest of it just like processing down Wembley Way

All of the shops were blasting Taylor Swift songs

Everyone was singing along

The doors had only just opened at this point

This was hours before the show kicked off

So we all headed down Wembley Way

Atmosphere very jubilant, loads of people taking photos, singing along

I headed in, my seats were kind of level with, she had a square stage in the middle of the kind of catwalk that came out from the back

I was sort of level with that quite low down on tier one

So had a really good view of everything that she was doing, but also really loved that I could see all the people kind of right up the front in the very front section who were all dancing, having the time of their lives

So that added to it

And the screams from the audience were some of the loudest that I've heard ever

And who were some of the celebs in attendance? Any surprises and what was the Travis Kelsey element, the special appearance?

The biggest surprise guest, I would say, for the night that I was there, which opening night, was Prince William and his family dancing to Shake It Off from the very, very top of the stadium

So some fans caught that and were obviously very excited

Taylor Swift, sort of before her show, took a selfie with them in the end, which was her way of hard launching her relationship with Travis, actually

I think it's the first time they've been pictured on Instagram together in a picture with the British royal family

So that's a power move

On my night, otherwise for celebrities, Travis was obviously there

His brother, Jason, both of Taylor Swift's parents were in the house

Nicola Coughlin from Bridgerton and Derry Girls, she was there

On night three of the tour, she does like a segment in the show where she has these butler type figures in top hats come on and like revive her and she's flopping around and they're doing her makeup and stuff

Usually it's just been like her backing dancers

This time she managed to sneak Travis onto the stage in a top hat

I think he was in custom Louboutin shoes to match hers

And he just appeared as a backing dancer and the crowd went wild

The funniest thing is that to get him out of the VIP tent onto the stage, fans are watching him like a hawk throughout the whole thing, because they're singing lines to each other, doing like mimes to each other

So to sneak him out without people noticing, they sent Paul McCartney out into the crowd to act as a decoy

So he went out to dance with the Swifties

Everyone was looking that way

Travis quickly scurried out and onto the stage

You mentioned some of her biggest hits earlier. Was there one particular track you could point to that just really sent the crowd into outer space on the night you were there?

Every single night during the evermore folklore section of the show, which is the kind of folk inspired pair of albums that she did during the pandemic with Aaron Desner from The National

She plays a song called Champagne Problems and it's kind of become a bit of a tradition on the Eras tour that that one is the one where people give her an ovation, which can last minutes of screaming and clapping and stamping on the floor

The whole stadium was shaking

She was in disbelief

It does happen every night, but I imagine that the feeling never gets that old, people screaming

So for me, that was a highlight just to see the sheer scale of the fandom

Could you tell us a bit about her connection with the Capital?

She's dated a number of British men throughout her career and she's sung about how much she loves the English on London Boy, which was a song about Joe Alwyn, her ex who she lived with in London for quite a long time

She's sung about walks in Shoreditch in the afternoon, nights out in Brixton, going to the pub with the rugby boys

She gets the culture and she loves London

There's much more on these stories in the Evening Standard newspaper and online at standard.co.uk