British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced this Wednesday that the general elections will be held on July 4. The vote may mark the end of 14 years of Conservative Party government in the United Kingdom, according to polls, which for months have shown an advantage of more than 20 points in favor of the Labor Party.

Sunak, who was elected prime minister by his party after the resignation of Boris Johnson in July 2022 and that of Liz Truss in October of that year, had room to call until December, when Parliament would have been automatically dissolved, but not I expected him to hurry so much.

The Prime Minister made his announcement this afternoon in front of Downing Street, in the rain, without an umbrella and while the music of Things Can Only Get Better, Tony Blair’s campaign song when he swept the Conservative Party in the 1997 election.

In his speech lasting a few minutes, Sunak recalled the suffering in the pandemic, “the acts of generosity” then and the aid to companies and workers that he approved as Boris Johnson’s economy minister and promised “protection.” He said he had fulfilled his promise in office to “return economic stability” to his country and cited the drop in inflation, although he acknowledged that he had not “got everything right.” “This is just the beginning,” said Sunak, whose party he has governed since 2010.

The majority of the population is dissatisfied with the Government in general and also when asked in surveys specifically about the management of public health, the economy, Brexit and migration. Sunak is one of the most unpopular leaders who have ever led a party in the United Kingdom (the records are still held by Truss and Jeremy Corbyn, in the Labor Party). The Conservative Party suffered significant defeats in local elections on May 2 across England.

Some polls predict a debacle in the House of Commons equal to or greater than that of the Conservative Party in 1997 against Tony Blair. Kelly Beaver, executive director of the pollster Ipsos in the United Kingdom, warned this Tuesday in a talk about the elections at King’s College in London that this scenario is not so easy to estimate due to the high number of still undecided people and the level of enthusiasm. lower among Starmer voters compared to Blair.

Unlike what happens in Spain and other European countries, the takeover of the new Government in the United Kingdom is usually immediate after the elections and a sufficient majority of one of the two major parties in the House of Commons. Thus, if the polls are correct, Starmer will be prime minister on July 9 for the NATO summit in Washington and on July 18 for the European Political Community summit at Blenheim Palace, near Oxford. A few minutes after Sunak’s announcement, Starmer tweeted the word “change” with a campaign video and made a short speech to “humbly” ask for the chance to change the country. “We will end the chaos,” Starmer promised, recalling declining public services, polluted river water and train delays.

Little budget margin

Sunak had said he would call the election in the second half of the year, and his chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, had suggested it would be after his budget announcement in the autumn, where he hoped to announce tax cuts. But the margin in the public accounts is very slim, and the International Monetary Fund warned the Government on Tuesday of the risk of tax cuts for the stability of the United Kingdom. In fact, the Fund advises the British Government to increase the capital and inheritance tax and reminds it that as long as it does not have more growth it faces “tough decisions.”

The lack of investment in public services and Brexit have aggravated the decline of the country, more affected than other neighbors by the shortage of goods and their increase in prices since 2020. Sunak insists that he is now going in the right direction, something that is not shared by the majority. of his fellow citizens, who also now believe that his country’s departure from the EU has been “a failure,” according to data from the polling firm YouGov.

The British Government hopes that the relative improvement of the economy in recent months will have some effect: the United Kingdom has just emerged from the recession it fell into at the end of last year, with GDP growth of 0.6% between January and March (in the same quarter, Spain grew 0.7%). The price increase was 2.3% in April, according to data published this Wednesday. Inflation is above expectations, but it is the lowest level in almost three years.


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