After a heavy defeat in the English local elections, Rishi Sunak is under pressure

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is accused of “managing” the country’s debacle (SIMON WALKER HM TREASURY /)

Tension has returned to British politics after the festive days for the king’s coronation Charles III. Those historic moments have only managed to hide for a few days the catastrophic conservative defeat in the local elections on May 4. The results left the ruling party without more than a thousand municipal seats that passed into the hands of Labor, Liberal Democrats and environmentalists.

The uproar is mainly in the ranks of the Conservative Party increasing the pressure for the prime minister Rishi Sunak choose another road map to avoid repeating such a bitter scenario in the 2024 general elections. For his fellow supporters, after almost seven months in power, it is not enough to have managed to avoid the conservative collapse.

After the brief mandate of Liz Truss, the new tenant of 10 Downing Street was summoned with two objectives: to balance the country and to give back to the tories electoral chances or, in any case, keep them away from another collapse like that of 4M. However, for these goals Sunak had to reconcile the idea that economic prosperity comes with the conservatives in power.

Rishi Sunak (Reuters)

As a pillar of this recovery, the former banker of Goldman Sachs he had to regain the confidence of the British people, hit by an economic crisis, as well as the complacency of the business sectors that expected a lot from the new “millionaire” prime minister.

But in recent days, Sunak has been questioned by the ultra-conservative sector of his party, who miss Boris Johnson, since they see the head of government as a “lukewarm” incapable of reordering the party. At the same time, they blame him for the anti-Brexit feeling that is multiplying due to what they understand is a misapplication of the agreements to assert the advantages of leaving the European Union.

On Saturday May 13, conservative activists met in the town of bournemoutha seaside resort in the south of England, named after the Conservative Democratic Organization, a party faction close to Boris Johnson. Although the scandalous former prime minister did not attend the meeting, those present agreed on multiple messages intended to erode Sunak’s authority by vindicating Johnson’s personal skills, even despite his stormy conduct and controversial departure from power.

At the same meeting they recalled the values ​​of conservative politics, the promises to cut taxes and the need for ties with the business sectors. For the British, one of the most noticeable economic effects of Brexit is the drop in investment. The curve was altered in 2016, during the referendum to leave the EU, in a context of uncertainty about the outcome of the negotiations to dissociate from the community bloc.

Despite these claims, Sunak is unable to fulfill these mandates due to the country’s fragile finances, partly due to the consequences of the Covid pandemic, the consequences of the war in Ukraine and finally due to the disastrous performance of his predecessor, Liz Truss.

Boris Johnson does not pose an immediate threat to Rishi Sunak.  Investigations into parties during the coronavirus pandemic still weigh on the former prime minister (Reuters)
Boris Johnson does not pose an immediate threat to Rishi Sunak. Investigations into parties during the coronavirus pandemic still weigh on the former prime minister (Reuters) (POOL /)

Conservatives, however, believe there is already a sort of list of Sunak defaulters. The current British leader is branded as a “centrist”, even though he has wanted to reinvigorate a harsh policy of deportation of asylum to Rwanda or until his recent decision to send long-range missiles to Ukraine.

In these hours, the harshest criticism came from Boris Johnson’s former Secretary of the Interior. priti pateHe accused Sunak of simply “managing the decline” of the Conservative Party and suggested he would spend more time with Tory activists “to get more in touch with people” and Tory values.

In this climate, and despite the fact that his image is being restored in the face of the feeling of latent crisis, Boris Johnson does not pose a threat to Downing Street. Johnson must first wait for the conclusions of the parliamentary commission of inquiry into the “party gate” during the Covid-19 epidemic. The commission will define the political future of the former head of government in June.

Conversely, whoever begins to show his ambitions is Suella Braverman, the Minister of the Interior. This same Monday she demanded that the figures on visa and immigration policy be displayed. “There is no reason why we cannot train more drivers or butchers instead of bringing them from abroad,” insisted the official while the lack of labor in certain jobs causes shortages in the gondolas.

Despite all this, Sunak insists on sticking to the five priorities he presented at the beginning of 2023: halve inflation, reduce public debt, improve public health appointments and waiting times, avoid recession by reactivating the economy, and stop the arrival of immigrants crossing the English Channel in boats. Still, none of these goals can guarantee that the noises troubling the conservative right will stop.

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