Sunak’s Conservative Party Expects Major Losses gnewsplus24

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at U.K. parliamentary elections, Kazakhstan hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, and a Category 5 hurricane in the Caribbean.

Welcome back to World Brief, where we’re looking at U.K. parliamentary elections, Kazakhstan hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, and a Category 5 hurricane in the Caribbean.


‘Nightmare on Downing Street’

The United Kingdom will hold snap parliamentary elections on Thursday that are expected to end the ruling Conservative Party’s 14-year hold on power. This is Britain’s first national election in almost five years and will determine all 650 seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of the U.K. Parliament. Experts predict a landslide loss for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, with the Conservatives expected to lose more than two-thirds of their parliamentary seats and Sunak likely to become the first sitting premier to be defeated in his own district.

Sunak became prime minister in October 2022, the third Conservative to hold the job in just under two months. Unlike former Conservative leader Boris Johnson, who won Britain’s last general election in 2019 by a massive margin, Sunak’s approval rating is a mere 18 percent—making him one of the most unpopular prime ministers in Britain’s history.

Labour leader Keir Starmer is therefore expected to take the helm. As the country’s former top prosecutor and opposition leader since April 2020, Starmer seeks to impose taxes on private school fees, reverse the Rwanda deportation plan, and address bogged-down public health services.

“A politically dominant Starmer will attend the G-7 as a leader in total political control, in stark contrast to his counterparts in France and Germany, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz, who are facing high disapproval ratings and struggling to pursue their governing agendas,” former Labour advisor Mike Harris argued in Foreign Policy.

The sluggish U.K. economy remains voters’ No. 1 concern. The Conservative Party began its more than decadelong tenure in power during the fallout of the 2008 global financial crisis. Under Sunak, though, inflation slowed to 2 percent this year through May after peaking at roughly 11 percent when he first took office. Other key issues for voters include long wait lists with Britain’s National Health Service, unauthorized immigration across the English Channel, the housing crisis, and climate change.

Successive political scandals within the Conservative Party—what FP’s Sasha Polakow-Suransky termed the “Nightmare on Downing Street”—have also damaged its credibility. Johnson resigned in 2022 after attending Downing Street-hosted parties during the COVID-19 pandemic while the rest of the nation was under lockdown. Liz Truss briefly took over—but quickly left after a disastrous economic proposal. And Sunak has faced his own controversies after several staffers allegedly engaged in insider betting on when Thursday’s snap elections would be scheduled for.

Combined support for the country’s two main parties is only at 63 percent, the Financial Times reported last Tuesday—marking an all-time low since Britain’s two-party system emerged after World War I. This has led to the rise of smaller parties, including the far-right Reform U.K. party, led by Nigel Farage; the environmentalist Green Party, led by Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay; and the centrist Liberal Democrats, led by Ed Davey.


Today’s Most Read


What We’re Following

SCO summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. The two discussed their strong bilateral relations in the face of Western sanctions on Moscow for its war in Ukraine. The SCO is also expected to discuss counterterrorism efforts, particularly after deadly attacks in Russia this year; Belarus becoming a full SCO member; and tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region.

With Belarus’s addition, the bloc’s 10 members will represent around one-quarter of the global economy and more than 40 percent of the world’s population. The heads of government for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan are attending the two-day summit as well as acting Iranian President Mohammad Mokhbar and Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent his foreign minister in his place.

Category 5 storm. Hurricane Beryl left “unimaginable” and “total” destruction in Grenada this week, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said on Tuesday. Around 98 percent of two of the islands’ buildings, including the main hospital, were damaged or destroyed, and local officials reported no functioning electricity in the area. “We have to rebuild from the ground up,” Mitchell said.

Since downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 storm, Hurricane Beryl hit Jamaica on Wednesday and is expected to move toward the Cayman Islands on Thursday. “We urge all Jamaicans to comply with notices to evacuate,” Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told residents. Beryl was the earliest Category 5 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin and only the second Category 5 storm recorded in July since 2005. The death toll is projected to remain low.

South China Sea. Philippine and Chinese officials agreed on Tuesday that they need to “restore trust” and “rebuild confidence” regarding ongoing tensions in the disputed South China Sea. Hosted in Manila, the high-level meeting discussed maritime claims mainly over the Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippine foreign ministry announced that “substantial progress” had been made during the talks, yet “significant differences remain.”

Both Manila and Beijing assert overlapping control over much of the South China Sea. These contested claims have led to numerous maritime collisions, with Chinese coast guard ships repeatedly shooting water cannons at Philippine vessels. “Any conflict between China and the Philippines would be especially dangerous,” FP’s James Palmer wrote in China Brief, particularly if Manila invokes its mutual defense treaty with the United States.


Odds and Ends

Even a major election loss couldn’t stop French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal from being real. Attal posted to the social media app BeReal on Monday, the day after his Renaissance party suffered heavy losses against the far-right National Rally in the first round of snap parliamentary elections on Sunday. BeReal requires users to take a picture with both their phone’s front and back cameras within a two-minute time frame at a random moment each day. Attal certainly followed the rules: posting what appears to be government staffers meeting in the first photo as well as a sad-looking selfie.


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