Britain, Brexit, government and governance May 2024-

Written by  //  July 9, 2024  //  Britain/U.K., Government & Governance, Politics  //  No comments

2024 election-related dates announced by No 10.
Friday 24 May – Parliament prorogued
Thursday 30 May – Parliament dissolved
Thursday 4 July – General election
Tuesday 9 July – New parliament meets for election of speaker and swearing-in of MPs
Wednesday 17 July – State opening of parliament, with king’s speech

9 July
Hundreds of new UK lawmakers are sworn in as Parliament returns after a dramatic election
(AP) The halls of the labyrinthine building echoed with excited chatter of the 650 members of the House of Commons — 335 of them arriving for the first time. That compares to 140 new lawmakers after the last election in 2019.
The seat of British democracy took on a back-to-school feel, from the rows of lockers temporarily installed in wood-paneled corridors to the staff holding “Ask Me” signs ready to help bewildered newcomers.
The new House of Commons includes the largest number of women ever elected — 263, some 40% of the total — and the most lawmakers of color, at 90.
The youngest new lawmaker is Labour’s Sam Carling, 22. He is one of 412 Labour legislators elected last week who will cram onto green benches on the government side of the House of Commons.

What is the NATO summit and why is Sir Keir Starmer going?
We look at the big meeting in Washington and what the UK’s new prime minister hopes to get out of it.
(Sky news) For Sir Keir, this is an early chance to make his mark on the world stage.
He will be hoping to have one-to-one meetings with key partners, including US President Joe Biden, as he seeks to reassure international counterparts of the UK’s support for Ukraine – having already announced a new supply deal for Kyiv.
But it will also give the new prime minister a chance to look calm and in charge following the wave of UK leaders that have headed to NATO in recent years.
This could please both presidents and prime ministers, as well as voters at home.

5-6 July
The UK election winner only becomes prime minister when King Charles III says so
(AP) — The Labour Party has won Britain’s general election, bringing a new party to power for the first time in 14 years. But Labour leader Keir Starmer didn’t actually become prime minister until a carefully choreographed ceremony on Friday during which King Charles III formally asked him to form a new government.
It’s a moment that embodies the fact that, technically at least, the right to govern in the United Kingdom is still derived from royal authority, centuries after real political power was transferred to elected members of Parliament.

Tony Blair: My advice to Keir Starmer
(The Times) The country has decided to give Keir and his team a go. That voters should hand Labour one of its biggest victories so soon after handing the party one of its biggest defeats is an enormous tribute to that team.
It doesn’t matter that, though the chapter headings are in bold print, there are pages of detail to be written. That’s an advantage.
The Labour Party won, as it always does, by returning to the centre-left. But, contrary to the common critique, the centre ground is not the place of the mushy middle, between the poles of right and left. It is the place of solutions, not ideology; where the policy comes first and the politics second. It can be sensible and radical at the same time. And that is what the country needs.
Anne Applebaum: How Labour Defeated Populism
Keir Starmer’s party beat the far right and far left by addressing real voters’ problems.
(The Atlantic) They didn’t use emotional slogans. They tried not to make promises they can’t keep. They didn’t have a plan you can sum up in a sentence, or a vision whose essence can be transmitted in a video clip. They were careful not to offer too many details about anything.
Nevertheless, Keir Starmer and the Labour Party will now run Britain, after defeating two kinds of populism. Yesterday they beat the Conservative Party, whose current leaders promised back in 2016 that simply leaving the European Union would make Britain great again. Instead, Brexit created trade barriers and dragged down the economy. To compensate, the Tories leaned hard into nationalist rhetoric, looked for scapegoats, and shuffled through five prime ministers in eight years. None of it worked: Labour has just won a stunning landslide victory of a kind no one would have believed possible after the last election, in 2019.
New UK prime minister Keir Starmer vows to heal wounds of distrust after Labour landslide
(AP) — Britain’s new prime minister, Keir Starmer, vowed Friday to reverse the hopelessness that grew over 14 years of Conservative rule and said he would lead an urgent mission of national renewal after his Labour Party’s landslide victory.
It will be a tall order.
Rising poverty, crumbling infrastructure, a lagging economy and an overstretched National Health Service contributed to widespread dissatisfaction and gripes about “broken Britain.”
Jeremy Kinsman: The Starmer Storm —How Labour Got Smart, and Lucky
(Policy) It looks, superficially, like a normal change of hands from one of the two governing parties to the other. “Nothing to see here. Move along.” That is what the markets say this morning. Despite hyperbolic predictions by Rishi Sunak and the Conservative campaign that Labour would ruin the country, the pound is steady.
For the British people, it is emphatically a rejection of the Conservatives, who are widely believed to be the ones who “ruined the country.” Their vote since 2019 plummeted by more than 20%.
Beneath this surface outcome, there is a lot to see, with possibly problematic implications for the future.

3-4 July
UK’s Labour sweeps to power as Sunak concedes election
By Andrew Macaskill , Elizabeth Piper and Alistair Smout
Keir Starmer to be Britain’s next prime minister
Rishi Sunak concedes election, saying he’s sorry for defeat
Conservatives forecast to win fewest seats in party’s history
Nigel Farage elected to parliament with his populist Reform UK
(Reuters) – Keir Starmer will be Britain’s next prime minister with his centre left Labour Party expected to win a huge majority in a parliamentary election, ending 14 years of often tumultuous Conservative government by trouncing Rishi Sunak’s party.
With many results still to be announced from Thursday’s vote, centre-left Labour has already won more than 326 of the 650 seats in parliament, with an exit poll suggesting it would capture about 410.
Landslide win for U.K.’s Labour ends 14 years of Conservative rule
(WaPo) [Sir] Keir Starmer and his renewed Labour Party won a landslide election in Britain on Thursday, according to the exit poll, ending 14 years of Conservative Party rule and moving toward a new government dominated by the center left.
This was an election that was more about mood than policy, and voters conveyed their frustration with the incumbent Tories and a willingness to take a chance on a “changed Labour Party,” as Starmer calls it, purged of its hard-left elements and socialist rhetoric.
…The end of the Conservative government — and the resurrection of what appears to be a more disciplined, centrist “establishment Labour” — marks a huge reversal for Britain’s top parties.
BBC announcers and their guests were tripping over themselves to pronounce the results seismic, landmark, huge — and gobsmacking.
…Starmer said voters across the country had sent a message that it was time to end “the politics of performance” and “return to politics as public service.”
Today’s Labour leaders bill themselves not as socialist firebrands but sensible managers. They don’t read Das Kapital. They read the Financial Times.
Starmer…has promised to put “wealth creation” at the center of all the new government does, to rouse a sleepy economy, help young families buy affordable homes and bolster the beloved but overextended National Health Service.
Starmer and his team have vowed to be sober-minded guardians of the treasury — and they will have to be. Public finances are stretched. Government debt has soared to its highest level since the 1960s. Many assume taxes will rise.
… When it comes to Britain’s foreign policy and its special relationship with the United States, there is not a lot of difference between Labour and Conservatives — at least on paper.
Expect no major moves by Starmer. He will be steadfast on NATO and continue to support and help arm Ukraine. On the Israel-Gaza war, he may press harder for peace deal.
‘Change begins now,’ says Keir Starmer as Labour wins majority

The intriguing real-life story of [Sir] Keir Starmer, U.K.’s next prime minister
As the next leader of Britain, Keir Starmer brings working-class roots, a forensic legal style and a ruthless approach to politics.
By William Booth and Karla Adam
(WaPo) He was a lefty lawyer who defended vegan anarchists before prosecuting terrorists on behalf of the British crown. He was an editor of a Trotsky magazine in his youth, yet he delighted capitalists by putting “wealth creation” at the heart of the Labour Party platform this year. He was an anti-monarchist who was then knighted as “Sir Keir” and now will meet with the king once a week.
It all makes for a complex, messy, real-life story. It also makes it tricky to anticipate what sort of prime minister Keir Starmer will be.
As Britain Votes, Change Is in the Air. Optimism, Not So Much.
The Labour Party is projected to sweep out the Conservatives after 14 years. But it would then inherit a “legacy of ashes.”
Voters went to the polls in Britain on Thursday in a dyspeptic mood, many of them frustrated with the Conservative government and skeptical that any replacement can unravel the tangle of problems hobbling the country.
Their skepticism is warranted, according to analysts. Even if the Labour Party wins a robust majority in Parliament, as polls suggest, it will confront a raft of challenges, from a torpid economy to a corroded National Health Service, without having many tools to fix them.
Britain will not rejoin EU in my lifetime, says Starmer
Labour leader also says he cannot foresee circumstances where UK would re-enter single market or customs union
With less than 24 hours to go until polls open, Starmer has largely avoided talking about relations with the EU during the campaign, as Labour seeks to avoid the mistakes it made in 2019 when it alienated leave voters by promising a second referendum.
Some have suggested this reluctance to talk about the issue masked a desire to pursue re-entry to the customs union or single market during a second Labour term, something other senior figures in the party have failed to rule out. Starmer insisted on Wednesday, however, this was not the case.
Asked whether he could see any circumstances where the UK rejoined the single market or customs union within his lifetime, Starmer said: “No. I don’t think that that is going to happen. I’ve been really clear about not rejoining the EU, the single market or the customs union – or [allowing a] return to freedom of movement.”
He repeated, however, his view that Labour could achieve better trading arrangements with the EU in certain industries. “I do think we could get a better deal than the botched deal we got under Boris Johnson on the trading front, in research and development and on security,” he said.

1 July
She could soon be the UK’s first female chancellor – but who is Rachel Reeves?
The 45-year-old has the perfect CV for the role, with experience at the Bank of England and in private finance – but how has her background shaped her tough stance on public finances?
(The Guardian) Lifting economic growth is at the heart of Labour’s prospectus – the secret to unlocking much-needed resources to rebuild public services. [Labour drafts options for wealth taxes to ‘unlock’ funds for public services]
That imperative will give Reeves’s Treasury immense power across Whitehall, in a way perhaps not seen since Gordon Brown was in his pomp, but she will also be at the sharp end of ferocious wrangling over resources.
“She’ll face some tricky times in the years ahead,” says David Gauke, the former Treasury minister who has sparred with Reeves across the dispatch box. “People will call for more radicalism and higher levels of spending, and she will be a voice of fiscal constraint. And it may well be that in her own party, within a few months, she will not necessarily be that popular.”
Those who have known Reeves since university describe her as confident and serious even then – a former child chess champion who already seemed to be thinking several moves ahead.

30 June
The West: Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
By Gwynne Dyer
The United Kingdom’s…Tories (Conservatives) have been in power for fourteen years by now, so time would have eroded their popularity even if they had wonderful and successful policies. Their policies were neither of those things.
They left the European Union (Brexit) and lost free access to Britain’s largest market by far. They imposed savage and needless austerity measures simply to serve their ideological goal of shrinking the state. British family incomes at the end of their fourteen years in power, astoundingly, are actually lower than they were at the start.
Things went crazy in the last five of those years, during which the country had four different Tory prime ministers but only one election. Once Brexit was done the party ran out of ideas, so the Conservative members of parliament broke up into vaguely ideological gangs and started fighting each other.
One prime minister was forced to resign for serial lying (Boris Johnson), another for crashing the economy (Liz Truss). The British economy rotted, the National Health Service is near collapse, and Prime Minister Sunak’s final obsession was to “get the flights going” to export asylum-seekers from Britain to Rwanda. (Cost: more than $1 million per person.)
That will never happen now, and the only question for the Conservatives is whether this election will be merely a catastrophe (two terms in opposition and then maybe a come-back), or a full-scale extinction event from which there is no return.
The Conservatives have been in office for more than half the time since the ‘modern’ party was founded 190 years ago, but apart from Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in the years before the Second World War they have never before had to face a challenge from the right.
Nigel Farage’s Reform UK Party is nationalist, populist and dog-whistle racist, but it is a far more sophisticated operation than Mosley’s ridiculous blackshirts. Farage’s goal is to supplant the traditional Conservative Party as the natural home for right-wing Britons, but he is not averse to achieving that goal by a hostile take-over of the Tories.
There are prominent figures in the Conservative Party, fearing near-annihilation in this week’s election, who see this as their only plausible route back to power within the next decade. The populist wave that threatens to engulf the West is a long-term threat in Britain, too – but for the next five years, at least, the Labour Party will govern with a massive majority.
It will take longer than that to repair all the economic and social damage that has been done, but at least it’s a start.

27 June
(The Economist) Our two covers this week focus on the elections in Britain and France. At The Economist’s editorial meeting we discussed both votes. The British one takes place on July 4th and three colleagues were each asked to make the best possible case for one of the three main parties—the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats. We followed that with an open debate. As with all our leaders, anyone on the staff with something to say could chip in. We are often divided over our endorsements for British elections. This time the overwhelming, and indeed probably unanimous, verdict—and one I share—was to choose Labour.
Our leader explains why. Since 2020 Sir Keir Starmer has transformed Labour, expelling his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, rooting out many of his fellow travellers and dragging the party away from radical socialism. Sir Keir has also correctly identified Britain’s single biggest problem: its stagnant productivity. The question is whether he will be a sufficiently bold reformer to overcome it.
Keir Starmer should be Britain’s next prime minister
Why Labour must form the next government
YOU WOULD never know it from a low-wattage campaign but after 14 years of Conservative rule, Britain is on the threshold of a Labour victory so sweeping that it may break records. No party fully subscribes to the ideas that The Economist holds dear. The economic consensus in Britain has shifted away from liberal values—free trade, individual choice and limits to state intervention. But elections are about the best available choice and that is clear. If we had a vote on July 4th, we, too, would pick Labour, because it has the greatest chance of tackling the biggest problem that Britain faces: a chronic and debilitating lack of economic growth.
Consider first the alternatives. We can discard some immediately. The Scottish National Party wants to dismember Britain, not run it. The Greens make student politics look rigorous. Reform UK, Nigel Farage’s outfit, offers a fevered, nativist vision of Britain that would accelerate the very decline it says it is striving to prevent.
Support for Farage’s Reform UK party drops after Ukraine comments
(Reuters) – Support for Nigel Farage’s right-wing Reform UK party has fallen ahead of a July 4 election, a poll showed on Thursday, after he said the West had provoked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
In an interview with the BBC aired last Friday, Farage said he stood by previous comments that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a consequence of the eastward expansion of the European Union and NATO.
The remarks by Farage, one of the country’s most recognisable and divisive politicians, drew strong criticism across the British political spectrum, but he went on to repeat them again during campaigning this week.
The dip in support for Reform could ease some of the pressure on the Conservatives after Farage’s surprise entry into the election race threatened to divert right-of-centre votes away from Sunak’s party.
The BMG Research opinion poll for the i newspaper, carried out June 24-26, put support for Reform on 16%, down from a record high of 19% last week. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives were on 20%, up from 19% previously.

26 June
Sunak and Starmer clash in testy final UK TV debate
(Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Keir Starmer went head-to-head on Wednesday in their last debate before an election next week, with both launching highly personal attacks over their and their parties’ credibility.
With Sunak’s Conservatives trailing Labour by around 20 points in the polls, the prime minister went on the attack, accusing Starmer of not being straight with the country on migration, tax and women’s rights, and urging voters not to “surrender” to the Labour Party.
Polls indicate that Labour’s Starmer is on course to win the election with a large majority, ending 14 years of Conservative rule. The two leaders have met at several debates or public sessions with voters, increasingly focusing on who was better suited to lead the country.
Starmer argued the country was exhausted after 14 years of Conservative “chaos”, and that he would better understand the challenges of many families who have struggled under soaring inflation and a cost of living crisis.
Conservatives suffer fall in support after betting scandal
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives suffered a further fall in support after five party officials, including two candidates, were being investigated over bets on the timing on an early election, according to a new poll.

25 June
The UK election has already failed
Britain in 2024 is facing huge, systemic problems. Few have been addressed in the campaign.
(Politico Eu) Britain is gripped by crisis — though you wouldn’t know it from the election campaign that’s played out these past few weeks.
The 2024 U.K. general election has been anything but boring, from its shotgun beginnings — Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, soaked to the bone in a rainswept Downing Street, taking the nation by surprise with a snap poll — through to its thrilling conclusion on July 4, with the opposition Labour Party appearing on course for a record-busting victory.
There have been scandals, with Sunak’s top aides suspended over an alleged betting scam, as well as gaffes — the PM’s decision to abandon a D-Day commemoration will live long in the memory — and outsized characters, in the form of Nigel Farage, back from the political dead.
The extraordinary backdrop to it all has been the sight of a once-unbeatable political party melting down in real time, the Conservatives hemorrhaging support in poll after poll as they plummet toward what insiders fear may be an extinction-level event.
For political nerds, there have been few campaigns like it.
But for the British public, detached from the political discourse and disenchanted — if not disgusted — with Westminster’s political class, this election has already failed.
Britain in 2024 is a nation with huge, systemic problems, few of which have been addressed in the five weeks of campaigning thus far.
The U.K. economy has been on life support for years, stuttering along with negligible or negative growth. At the same time, the nation’s debt interest payments have soared by tens of billions of pounds, choking off any real investment in neglected and crumbling public services. The government’s tax take is already at near-record levels.
For the public the cost of living has soared, fueled by the sky-high energy and commodity prices triggered by the war in Ukraine.
City dreams of Labour win to deliver new Brexit deal
It’s considered a ‘hanging offense,’ but could some EU countries hash out side deals with the UK on financial services?
Labour could play it safe with Brussels on financial services. Or it could stir up treason.
Labour’s wannabe finance minister Rachel Reeves, set to take over the helm of the Treasury on July 4 if polls are correct, has made it clear she wants to improve the trading relationship with the EU.
But Brussels won’t let that happen immediately.
So Reeves will have a choice: be patient and put the hours in to get the bloc on side. Or, take the nuclear option: revive Brexit’s infamous “cherry picking” approach and plump for some side deals with Britain-friendly countries.

22 June
UK’s Nigel Farage says the West provoked Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
By William James
(Reuters) – Nigel Farage, the leader of Britain’s right-wing Reform UK party, said the eastward of expansion of the European Union and NATO had provoked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The remarks, made in an interview with the BBC aired late on Friday, drew strong criticism across the British political spectrum ahead of a July 4 election in which Farage’s party is predicted to win millions of votes.

21 June
Labour drafts options for wealth taxes to ‘unlock’ funds for public services
Exclusive: Sources say changes to inheritance tax and capital gains tax are being discussed
The Labour party has been drawing up options for how it could raise money through extra wealth taxes to help rebuild Britain’s public services if it wins the general election, according to sources who have spoken to the Guardian.
The proposals under consideration include increases in capital gains tax (CGT), first revealed by the Guardian two weeks ago, that could raise £8bn.
Another option under discussion could lead to significant changes to inheritance tax. The measure would make it more difficult to “gift” money and assets, such as farmland, tax free. Together with CGT increases it could raise up to £10bn in revenue, according to one document seen by the Guardian.

9 June
UK voters against national service and split on pledges not to raise tax, poll shows
Lib Dem policy on sewage was the most popular and Labour plan to lower voting age the least liked in YouGov survey
(The Guardian) In a survey on the main pledges so far, pollsters found that the flagship Conservative idea of a year of military service or a day a month of volunteering for 18-year-olds was rejected by 52% of people and supported by 39%.
The data suggest people have swung even further away from the idea more than a week after it was launched, with a more split response. The Tory idea of shutting down university degrees with “poor” outcomes also got support from less than half of voters at 49%, while 29% of people opposed it.
In contrast, the Conservative pension pledge proved more supported, with 73% backing the plan to raise the amount of income pensioners can receive before having to pay income tax in line with the annual increase in the state pension under the existing ‘triple lock’.
The YouGov polling found Labour’s policy of charging VAT on private school fees was supported by 61%, and creating a publicly owned renewable energy provider was backed by 74% of people. …
However, Keir Starmer’s suggestion that Labour could lower the voting age to 16 was the most unpopular policy of all, backed by 32% and opposed by 59%.

7 June
7 Furious Tories turn on Rishi Sunak over D-day commemorations snub
Rishi Sunak provoked condemnation from a senior cabinet colleague and fury from Conservative grassroots after he was forced to apologise for skipping a key part of the D-day commemorations, the biggest misstep yet of an already faltering election campaign.
Rishi Sunak criticised for leaving D-day event early ‘to record ITV interview’
PM skipped late afternoon ceremony at Normandy commemorations so he could focus on electioneering
Rishi Sunak has been criticised for leaving the D-day commemorations in Normandy early on Thursday, with reports that he returned to the UK to do a prerecorded TV interview.

6 June
Brexit Bites Back
British paratroopers dropping in French field for D-day event asked for passports
French officials insist on checking paperwork of 400 troops landing in Normandy for 80th anniversary commemoration

Democracy in Decay: Can Sun King Nigel save our country?
(Conservative Woman) Nigel Farage’s surprise return to the fray as both leader of Reform UK and Parliamentary candidate for Clacton has galvanised and remoralised much of the conservative base. It remains to be seen whether he can attain what has eluded him on seven previous occasions and be returned as an MP.
For those of us who believe passionately in democracy, everything hangs on how well Reform UK do and the extent to which they can reduce the number of Tory seats. Parliament remains as degenerate as ever, with both Tory and Labour parties accused of the profoundly anti-democratic process of parachuting favoured sons and daughters – often Special Advisers (Spads) with no real-life experience – into safe seats. This top-down subversion of democracy has of course been going on for years and is a major reason why the Tories have proved so ineffectual and unwilling in implementing the will of the people in government. If Reform fail to gain seats and the Tories manage to hold more than 100 of theirs, the woke, green-obsessed and globalist ‘One Nation’ faction will be even more dominant and the much-longed-for realignment of the right will prove impossible. …

3 June
Brexit Champion Says He’ll Run for Parliament, Jolting U.K. Election
Nigel Farage, an anti-immigration campaigner and Trump ally, reversed a pledge not to run.
(NYT) Nigel Farage, the pro-Brexit campaigner and serial disrupter of British politics, announced plans on Monday to run as a candidate in Britain’s general election next month, dealing a new setback to the prospects of the country’s embattled prime minister, Rishi Sunak.
The surprise announcement from Mr. Farage, who represents an insurgent hard-right movement that campaigns to curb immigration, threatens to upend the campaign by taking votes from Britain’s governing Conservative Party. In doing so, he could make it even harder for Mr. Sunak and his party to narrow a double-digit gap in the polls with the opposition Labour Party.

30 May
Evan Solomon: Sunak picks a generation fight
(GZERO media) Because Ian wrote about Sunak’s quizzical election call yesterday in his GZERO newsletter, I won’t warm over the fandango of foozles that have left Sunak a gaping 27 points behind Labour – from the now infamous rain-soaked “Drowning Street” launch to his follow-up visit to the Titanic shipyard. But desperate times call for desperate policies, so as sure as Pimm’s at Wimbledon, Sunak has predictably picked a target: young people.
“There’s no doubt that our democratic values are under threat,” Sunak said as he sprung a new promise to bring back a compulsory service for young people in Britain decades after the last one was disbanded in 1960. “That is why we will introduce a bold new model of national service for 18-year-olds.” For once, a Sunak policy announcement made more headlines than his campaign clangers.
The plan would require that all 18-year-old Brits give a year of service in the military (up to 30,000 people could do this) or, for the rest of the 700,000 members of that demographic, some other form of community service for one weekend a month, working with organizations like the police, NHS, and fire service.
The plan would cost about 2.5 billion pounds a year and its goal is to unite diverse Britons in a shared mission of values, selflessness, and service.

29 May
Drowning Street
Ian Bremmer: Sunak’s gamble leaves Tories on the edge of defeat
(GZERO) A week ago, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gambled his career, his legacy, and the future of the Conservative government by calling earlier-than-expected snap elections on July 4 – a seemingly no-win decision given that his party has been underwater by some 20 points in the polls.
Speaking of underwater, standing outside No. 10 Downing St. in the pouring rain without an umbrella (not the first nor last piece of evidence that his aides must really dislike him), the utterly soaked prime minister described his premature date with destiny as “a moment for Britain to choose its future.” Sunak argued that the most geopolitically dangerous global environment in decades (fact-check: true) calls for the stability and predictability at the helm of the UK government that only Tories can deliver (although “stability” and “predictability” are surely not the first two words that come to mind when I think of the last several years of mostly shambolic Conservative rule). The address also previewed a bitterly personal campaign against Labour leader Keir Starmer, accusing him of being willing to say anything to win power and then go back on his word (aka a politician).
The prime minister defied calls from a majority of his party’s MPs to wait to stage the poll until the fall, when they hoped (and most analysts expected) voters would start to feel the benefits of an improving economy and public opinion might have moved in the Tories’ favor. Instead, Sunak used last week’s marked drop in inflation to 2.3% – slightly higher than forecast by the Bank of England but still meeting the PM’s electoral promise to halve it – as the springboard for a six-week (Americans can only dream!) election campaign. The PM was told by his advisors that inflation had bottomed out and would rise again over the coming months – and that reduced fiscal space for tax cuts later in the year would reduce his room for maneuver down the line. This made him fear that the economic outlook was never going to look better than now.

26 May
Reassuring, serious, a sense of duty: who is Keir Starmer really?
likely the UK’s prime minister not long after the July 4 election.
(The Observer, Guardian) Over nine years in parliament, he’s helped shift the Labour Party from the ideological rigidity of the Jeremy Corbyn era onto a path and platform that can win enough centrist voters to take power.
On Thursday, Starmer introduced his party’s latest manifesto with a pledge to help Britons create wealth: “If you take nothing else away from this today, let it be this,” he told a mostly enthusiastic audience. “We are pro-business and pro-worker. A plan for wealth creation.”
With its de-emphasis on big spending initiatives, some will compare Starmer to former Labour PM Tony Blair. But Blair was a sunnier and more charismatic figure. Starmer, who left work as a human rights lawyer to pursue politics in 2015, must make a virtue of his reputation for seriousness, caution, and a focus on practical means for attaining tangible gains. His own working-class roots help him connect with working-class voters.

22 May
Rishi Sunak takes gamble by calling UK general election for 4 July
PM announces date with Tories trailing Labour by 20 points in polls, saying it is ‘the moment for Britain to choose its future’
(The Guardian) Sunak’s words were met with alarm by senior Tories who are concerned that their party, trailing 20 percentage points behind Labour in the polls, could face electoral wipeout, with some MPs even considering submitting letters of no confidence.
… Starmer is widely expected to become the next prime minister after transforming Labour since its historic election defeat almost five years ago.
The Guardian view on the general election: countdown to a reckoning that is overdue
The prime minister has run out of road and is left defending a thin legacy against the prospect of regime change
Keir Starmer expected to make it to No 10 despite his low personal popularity
Keir Starmer goes into the general election widely expected to emerge as prime minister, despite being roughly as personally popular as Ed Miliband was at the time of the 2015 election.
Headline polls suggest Labour will win a convincing majority in July, with the party 20 points ahead, potentially enough for a landslide victory.
But underlying data suggests Starmer and his party are no more popular or trusted than they were heading into 2015, when the Conservatives won a majority.
5 great things Britain’s July election ruins [including Wimbledon tennis grand slam]

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