Honeymoon? Rishi Sunak couldn’t even get to the end of the wedding banquet without guests criticizing the menu (more taxes, less government spending, inflation, deteriorating cost of living, constant strikes, increased immigration, lack of low-cost housing , environmental and foreign policy), the band stops playing in the middle of the row, and the bride slams the cake in his face and threatens him with divorce.
Not even five weeks has tranquility and joy lasted for the British Prime Minister. His face has been stained with cream with the defeat in the Chester city by-election to fill a seat vacated by allegations of sexual abuse against his incumbent. Labor had it, and has kept it, so far everything perfectly normal. The problem for Sunak is that the Conservative vote share has fallen from 38.3% in the last election to a meager 22.4%, suggesting that the new Tory leader does not generate any particular enthusiasm.
Labour’s clear victory, almost doubling the majority that it enjoyed, is fully in line with the data from the latest polls, which give it a crushing 25-point lead over the Conservatives, which they also see as the far-right Reform Party, the son of the formation Created by Nigel Farage, it takes away votes and already has 8% support. Such a combination would not only lose the Tories in the election two years from now, it would threaten their very existence.
After the Boris Johnson scandals and the crazy Liz Truss, Sunak was chosen to at least stop the coup. He has achieved it with the markets (the pound has risen, interest rates on mortgages and public debt have fallen, the situation has stabilized), but not with the voters. Everything continues to point to a conservative debacle at the polls at the end of 2024 or beginning of 2025, unless things change a lot, the war in Ukraine ends, inflation is controlled, the recession lasts less than predicted, the chains of supplies to work normally again… Long to wait? One political commentator has suggested that all the government’s hopes are pinned on England winning the World Cup, because of the collective euphoria it would unleash. And because it is more feasible than the other scenarios.
For the moment, football on the sidelines, everything is pessimism and the country advances like a sleepwalker towards paralysis and the most absolute case. Between now and Christmas strikes are called practically every day. When not nurses, postmen. When not from ambulance drivers, from teachers. When not from railway personnel, from examiners for the driver’s license. When not from the Eurostar staff, from the border police. When not from the officials in charge of renewing passports, from security guards who put money in ATMs. So the UK is going nowhere. And now, who drives the car is Sunak, and the responsibility is his.
He has been in Downing Street for just over a month, and the various factions tories They are already at declared war again. The Conservative Party enjoys a majority of 69 seats, but constant rebellions make it seem like a minority. The prime minister has not been able to carry out a law to build 300,000 popular homes (there is a chronic shortage that drives up the cost of rentals and purchases), due to the opposition of fifty deputies representing rural areas, whose inhabitants do not even want to masses of people or that their landscape is ruined.
Another group refuses to authorize the construction of wind power plants, despite the need for independent sources of electricity (there could be blackouts in the winter, never seen before). The news that net immigration has surpassed half a million people in the last twelve months has caused many Brexiteers to throw up their hands and wonder what the point of leaving the European Union was. Answer: so that each household pays 250 euros more in food in two years, for example.
Even in foreign policy, the conservative parliamentary group Sunak does not give a break, many of whose members have found it “weak” and “soft” that it summarizes its policy towards China in “robust pragmatism”, while Beijing represses, interferes in elections , practices industrial espionage and threatens to recapture Taiwan. It would seem better to many deputies a more active and militant hostility, without any kind of hot cloth. The tories they are depressed and almost believe the next elections are lost, as evidenced by the fact that some of their young figures have thrown in the towel and announced that they will not defend the seats they won from Johnson in 2017. He may not have had another remedy, but a Conservative Party that raises taxes has it very raw, because that is done much better by the left. And he loses his identity, his reason for being.
The clear defeat in the Chester election is a denial of Sunak’s authority and Tory morality. His relationship with British voters may end like a rosary at dawn. But it’s logical, if you think about it, because it was an arranged marriage. Nobody voted for the prime minister, except the very conservative members of the House of Commons. Love shines by its absence, and it shows.