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UK: Rishi Sunak calls election for July 4, Labor favorite

After months of suspense, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that he would Wednesday the holding of legislative elections on July 4, Labor starting as big favorites to dislodge the Conservatives, in power for 14 years.

It was in the rain, his voice sometimes drowned out by music coming from the loudspeaker of a demonstrator, that the head of government announced, from the steps of 10 Downing Street, of his surprise decision to ask King Charles III to dissolve Parliament.

“Over the next few weeks, I will fight for every vote,” insisted Rishi Sunak.

“I will earn your trust and prove to you that only a conservative government led by me will not jeopardize our hard-won economic stability and will be able to restore pride and confidence in our country,” added the 44-year-old former banker, accusing Labor of having “no project”.

Rishi Sunak has so far limited himself to mentioning elections “in the second half” and the vote, possible in theory until January 2025, was expected in the fall.

But faced with disastrous polls for the Tories, the pressure was increasing for him to clarifies his intentions.

A series of good economic news – return of growth and curbing of inflation – ended up convincing him to take the plunge.

– “Time for change” –

After 14 years of conservative power marked by the Brexit referendum and five Prime Ministers, the British nevertheless seem determined to turn the page and send the Labor Party Keir Starmer, a 61-year-old former lawyer to Downing Street.

UK: Rishi Sunak calls election for July 4, Labor favorite

Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labor opposition in the United Kingdom, in Mansfield, central England, May 4, 2024 © AFP – Darren Staples

“The time for change has come!”, launched Keir Starmer after the election announcement, presenting the Labor vote as a vote “for stability, economic and political”.

“We can end the chaos, we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild the United Kingdom and change our country,” he insisted.

< p>Polls give Labour, positioned on the centre-left, around 45% of voting intentions, far ahead of the Conservatives, between 20% and 25%, and the anti-immigration and anti-climate policy party Reform UK (12%).

With a simple first-past-the-post voting system in the UK's 650 constituencies, such results would translate into a large majority for Labor.

For the Tories, whom Boris Johnson led to a historic victory in 2019, the predictions are cataclysmic.

More than 60 Conservative MPs out of 344 have already given up on running, including party heavyweights.

Even in Scotland, the separatists, all-powerful in recent years , are now left behind in the polls by Labor.

– Succession of crises –

“Everyone wants change”, summarizes Samuel Sackie, an accountant interviewed by AFP in the streets of London, while believing that Labor does not “really propose a policy different from the Conservatives”.

“It’s really about time,” judges Stephen Mann, 55, who works in finance. “The current government no longer worked (…) so at least we will be able to move forward.”

Chosen by his party's deputies in October 2022, Rishi Sunak was supposed to embody, with his past as an investment banker and Minister of Finance, the return of seriousness after the scandals of the Boris Johnson era and the near financial crisis caused by Liz Truss's 49 days in power.

But her mandate turned into a cross, with the British seeming exhausted by the decline in purchasing power over the last two years, the decline of public services – especially the health system, which is running out of steam -, the rise in interest rates and even the housing crisis. Not to mention the rifts in the majority, where internal struggles are openly displayed.

Rishi Sunak has shown himself incapable of redressing the situation despite his repeated attempts to get back on track , to display his authority or to seduce his base with projects like that aimed at sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.

For his part, Keir Starmer, elected at the head of his party in 2020 after the very left Jeremy Corbyn, methodically refocused Labor. He set about building an image of a competent and serious leader, prudent on the economic and financial level, and firm on security and migration issues.

According to a YouGov poll, Keir Starmer, with 51% unfavorable opinions, is the least unpopular politician in the United Kingdom. Rishi Sunak receives 71% unfavorable opinions.

Labor is considered by respondents to be better placed than the Tories to manage all issues except defence, including taxation, immigration and security which are traditionally the favorite areas of conservatives.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116