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United Kingdom: the Sunak-Starmer duel begins for the legislative elections

In six weeks, the British will decide: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the leader of the Labor opposition Keir Starmer launched into the legislative battle on July 4 on Thursday, où Labor is the big favorite after 14 years of Conservative rule.

Long behind by around twenty points in the polls, the 44-year-old head of the conservative government assured that he intended to “fight for every vote”, announcing Wednesday to everyone's surprise , and in the rain, a summer election.

In the mornings as in his first campaign trip inaugurating an express tour to the four corners of the country, Rishi Sunak hammered home his argument. He posed himself as the one who takes “bold measures” to ensure the security of the British, and has a “clear plan” which is starting to bear fruit, facing a Labor synonymous with a “return to the box departure”.

Accusing Labor of offering “amnesty” to illegal immigration, he nevertheless conceded that flights to deport migrants to Rwanda, flagship measure of his immigration policy, would only take off after the vote, if he is re-elected.

Proof, in the eyes of Keir Starmer, that Rishi Sunak himself “never believed” in this controversial project which Labor promises to abandon.

In the traditionally conservative lands of the south-east of England, Labor has also taken up its refrain, crushing the Conservatives who have spent “14 years going in circles to get absolutely nowhere”. And thus summarizes the choice that arises: “the continuation of decline and chaos” with the conservatives or the “reconstruction of the country” with Labor.

– Preparation of long time –

United Kingdom: the Sunak-Starmer duel begins for the legislative elections

Keir Starmer, leader of the Labor opposition, on May 4, 2024 in Mansfield, central England © AFP – Oli SCARFF

Most newspapers highlight the bet represented by this election, which for the first time since 1945 – when the Labor Party Clement Atlee won against Winston Churchill – will be held in July.

The task promises to be titanic for Rishi Sunak, who has not managed to turn things around since he entered 10 Downing Street in October 2022 after the scandals of the Boris Johnson and the near financial crisis which marked Liz Truss's 49 days in power.

Polls give Labor around 45% of voting intentions compared to less than 25% for the Tories, seeming to promise the reins of the country to Keir Starmer, a 61-year-old former lawyer and director of public prosecutions, who since the electoral debacle of 2019 has rebuilt and brought his party back to the center left.

After the succession of conservative governments under five Prime Ministers marked by Brexit, the British seem determined to turn the page, exhausted by the decline in purchasing power over the last two years, the decline of public services – especially the health system , out of breath -, the rise in interest rates or even the housing crisis.

But “in any democracy”, nothing is ever done” until the votes are counted”, notes Tony Travers, professor at the London School of Economics, the electorate can turn “very quickly”. “But for now, it looks like we'll have a change of government on July 4.”

United Kingdom: the Sunak-Starmer duel begins for the legislative elections

British Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Rishi Sunak, during a campaign rally at ExCeL, May 22, 2024 in London © AFP – HENRY NICHOLLS

Opinion studies do not reflect massive enthusiasm for Labor either. Citing the “cliché” in British politics according to which “the opposition does not win elections, the government loses them”, the political scientist emphasizes that Labor strives to present itself as “electable”, hoping that the “failures” of conservatives “will be enough” to make them lose.

The Tories also find themselves under threat from the nationalist and populist party Reform UK which, credited with 10% of voting intentions , risks depriving the Tories of key seats. They will present candidates in 630 of the 650 constituencies in the country.

But the party will not be able to benefit from the notoriety of its honorary president, Nigel Farage, champion of Brexit , who announced that he would not run for a seat, having been an unsuccessful candidate seven times at Westminster but was elected to the European Parliament from 1999 to 2020.

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