It’s a tough day for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The world awaits the coronation of King Charles III. to London. Sunak receives heads of government from all over the world every half hour. He wants to take advantage of their presence in London to improve Great Britain’s network. The British economy is struggling to move forward after the pandemic and urgently needs new infusions of trade from abroad.
And now this! Sunak’s conservative party suffers a bitter defeat in the local elections and has lost a massive number of seats – 1,005 according to a count of 217 out of 230 constituencies. The Conservatives had a total of 3,367 defense seats.
It was clear to Sunak that the local elections would not be easy. Voters’ confidence in the Conservatives has been damaged – with the departure of Boris Johnson in July and short-term economic and fiscal policy blunders by Prime Minister Liz Truss that have pushed the country to the brink of financial crisis.
Motto: Close your eyes and get through
Polls show that since the Truss debacle, a large part of the electorate has more confidence in the opposition Labor Party than Sunak’s party in pursuing future-oriented economic policies.
So Sunak’s motto was: close your eyes and get on with it. He told the BBC camera early that morning: “It’s always disappointing to lose seats for hard-working aldermen, friends and acquaintances. I’m grateful to them for all they’ve done.”
After ten seconds of regret, he launched the slogan of perseverance in preparation for the general national elections that will be held at the end of next year at the latest. “I will do everything to meet the priorities of our people: we will cut inflation in half, grow the economy, reduce debt, shorten waiting lists for hospitals, and stop illegal immigration.”
This is easier said than done – and it won’t be a Sunday picnic.
Things are going well for the workers. The party had to defend 2,143 local seats. Business succeeds. Moreover, the Left Party won hundreds of seats. “What a fantastic result,” Labor leader Keir Starmer said at an event in Medway in southeast England. The party is regaining a majority in several cities, which it lost to the conservatives in the last elections.
Starmer is filled with confidence: “We’re on our way to winning the next national general election.” Polls seem to agree with the Labor leader. Had elections been held in mid-April, Labor would have taken 44 per cent of the seats in the national parliament from Westminster, while the Conservatives would have only 30 per cent.
Coronation puts everything in the shadows
In any case. Things could have been worse for Rishi Sunak. His predecessor Theresa May lost more than 1,300 seats in the local elections in May 2019 and was forced to resign from her positions as head of government and party leader a few weeks later. It won’t be so hard this time.
Sunak is lucky because Charles III. be crowned king. Politicians have other things to do than press charges against him. The general public also has other priorities in the next few days: Celebrating the great coronation feast and having fun – with family and friends. The prime minister will be fine.
TV Correspondent for Great Britain
Michael Gerber has been TV Correspondent for Great Britain and Ireland since spring 2022. He previously worked as SRF International Editorial Team Coordinator and Special Correspondent. From 2011 to 2017 he worked as a correspondent from France. He was previously Western Switzerland Correspondent and Editor and Correspondent at ’10vor10′.
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