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Welcome to Keir Starmer, the new PM of Britain, goodbye to Rishi Sunak

In the UK, the 14-year rule of the Conservative Party has come to an end as the Labour Party returns to power. On July 4, 2024, a general election was held in Britain. Various polls had already been indicating that the Conservative Party would face a major defeat in this election, and the Labour Party would emerge victorious. The election on July 4 confirmed this prediction with a decisive victory for the Labour Party, and Keir Starmer has been inaugurated as the new Prime Minister of Britain. For the first time since 1945, a general election was held in the UK in the month of July. In this election, for the first time, voters were required to show photo ID or identification pictures before casting their votes. In the UK, the term of an elected government lasts for five years. The Conservative Party won the 2019 election. According to the rules, the next general election was due to be held by January 2025. Although many had speculated that the election might take place in the autumn, it did not happen. In the UK, there are 650 electoral constituencies. Each constituency elects one Member of Parliament (MP) who represents them in the House of Commons. Most of the candidates contesting in the election are representatives of various political parties, although some also run as independent candidates. According to opinion polls, the popularity of Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party has been declining since 2021. BBC's Political Editor Chris Mason says that some politicians within the party believe that the situation is unlikely to improve, and there is a risk that delaying the election could lead to an even worse defeat for the Conservative Party given the current trends in voter sentiment.

In short, the situation is such that whatever needs to be done must be done now, or the conditions may become even worse. In discussing why Rishi Sunak is pushing for the election to be held now, Chris Mason highlights a significant point. For example, the current inflationary conditions could be seen as a success for Rishi Sunak. However, this is not necessarily a reflection of the government’s actions. Generally, when inflation is sky-high, the government is held responsible. Therefore, it can be expected that as the inflation rate decreases, the Conservative Party will try to claim some of the credit for this success. And this has already happened. At the same time, he mentioned that the broader economic picture also seems to be somewhat improving. Recent opinion polls indicate that from the beginning of the election campaign, Rishi Sunak's Conservative Party has been trailing quite a bit behind their main rival, the Labour Party. In fact, this has been the situation for almost the past 12 months. According to polls, the Labour Party has consistently received over 40% public support. However, it is also possible that the opinion polls may not be accurate. Rishi Sunak hoped that as the election campaign progressed, his recent successes while in power and decisions related to his party could turn the tide in favor of the Conservative Party. He was optimistic that issues such as the reduction in the inflation rate and a focus on his party’s policies would have an impact on the election battlefield. Although the situation at present suggests that the Labour Party has started their campaign with a significant lead, according to the latest polls, the right-wing anti-immigration party Reform UK is currently in third place. However, their support is spread evenly across the country, which makes it challenging to convert that support into parliamentary seats. On the other hand, the Liberal Democrats—who were previously the third-largest party in the country—are currently averaging around 10% in the polls. The Liberal Democrats are hopeful for a good result in the upcoming election by focusing on targeted constituencies. Before the general election in the UK, Rishi Sunak had promised to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda. As Prime Minister, he had prioritized this policy. Sunak's argument was that if this policy were implemented, it would prevent people from crossing the English Channel in small boats to enter the UK. However, after calling the general election earlier than expected, Sunak announced that if he is re-elected on July 4, the project will begin. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has promised that they will cancel this plan if they come to power. This has raised the question of whether anyone will actually be sent to Rwanda. So far, £24 crore have been spent on the Rwanda policy. During the six-week election campaign, the policy has been a clear dividing line between the two main rival parties in the UK. The two parties currently expected to receive the most votes are the ruling Conservative Party and the Labour Party. At 44 years old, Rishi Sunak is the leader of the Conservative Party. When he became Prime Minister in 2022, he was 42 years old, making him the youngest Prime Minister in modern British history. Moreover, he is the first British-Indian person to hold the office of Prime Minister.

On the other hand, the Labour Party is led by Sir Keir Starmer, who is 61 years old. He was elected as the leader of the party in 2020, succeeding Jeremy Corbyn. Before this, Starmer served as the Director of Public Prosecutions and was the head of the Crown Prosecution Service. Before the election, the Prime Minister formally requested the King to dissolve Parliament, and as a result, Parliament has been dissolved. As a result, MPs will lose their status. If they wish to remain in office, they will have to campaign as candidates to be re-elected. Over a hundred MPs have already announced that they will not stand for re-election in the upcoming election. During this period, the government enters a pre-election phase, which limits ministerial and departmental activities during the campaign. The Sunday Times in the UK has officially announced its support for the Labour Party. In an editorial, the newspaper stated that after 14 years of Conservative rule, the country needs a fundamental change. Additionally, some of the country’s major newspapers, including the Daily Mirror, The Guardian, and The Economist, have endorsed the Labour Party. However, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph have expressed their support for the Conservatives. Although nearly 98 political parties, both large and small, have participated in this election, a record number of 4,515 candidates, including party and independent candidates, are contesting for the 650 seats in the House of Commons. In this election, there is no constituency with fewer than five candidates. In addition, there is one constituency with the highest number of 13 candidates. In the election, 459 independent candidates are contesting for 317 seats. One candidate from each of 35 different parties is also running in the election.

Since the Brexit vote, the UK has been in turmoil. The Eurozone’s economic downturn has had a severe impact on the British market. Even after leaving the European Union, the UK found itself without a viable solution to escape the repercussions of that economic downturn. The then-Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, admitting that he was unable to manage Brexit. The responsibility for handling Brexit then falls to Prime Minister Theresa May, who ultimately failed to implement successful and strategic Brexit policies. Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the stage. In the general election, Johnson's Conservative Party won 80 more seats than the opposition Labour Party. However, the government was then troubled by COVID. During the pandemic, Johnson was forced to resign due to a scandal involving rule violations with parties at his residence and in the parliamentary compound. In his Cabinet, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, managed to keep the wheels of the British economy moving through economic relief measures and business support during the COVID crisis. Following Johnson, Liz Truss, who had the shortest tenure as Prime Minister in history, took charge of Britain. It was observed that a lettuce kept in a refrigerator outlasted her government. For this reason, in the realm of British political journalism, Rishi Sunak is referred to as both a savior and a victim of circumstances. Analysts question why none of the prominent figures from the Conservative Party are stepping forward to lead the party through this difficult time. David Cameron has returned as a Foreign Secretary, but his only achievement so far is receiving a Lordship title. Boris Johnson is now a newspaper columnist. Liz Truss has focused on American infotainment. Theresa May occasionally offers commentary on TV. None of them have stepped up to save the party. It was Rishi Sunak who took on the challenge of leading the party, but accepting the painful reality of his dismal defeat in this election is a difficult but necessary truth.

The reason is that a month ago, while the D-Day commemoration marking the final days of World War II was taking place in Normandy, he was giving interviews on TV. The subtle pride of British identity is deeply connected to the victory of World War II. In Sunak’s constituency, most families have military connections, with one or two generations having lost their lives in the war. Missing the D-Day commemoration there is like sitting down and cutting own branch. Similarly, if the general election had been announced in October or November, the reduction in inflation might have somewhat shifted public sentiment towards the government. However, instead of this approach, Sunak suddenly announced the election for July. There were whispers that there were so many migrant-filled boats crowding the English Channel that Sunak no longer wanted to take risks on the immigration issue. Following this, there were allegations of gambling and betting among Tory MPs surrounding the election day, and these allegations were proven true.

Thus, according to experts, there is a clear indication of internal sabotage within the party, which was certainly not good news for Sunak. However, Keir Starmer has a history of working tirelessly until his objectives are achieved. For the sake of Britain and his own party’s interests, it is crucial for him to navigate the ideological instability of post-Brexit Britain in this manner. If the Labour government succeeds in restructuring the planning and management of public affairs, strengthening relations with Europe, enhancing the financial capability of local governments, increasing the national treasury, and making the tax system more rational, then Keir Starmer’s name will be etched brightly in the pages of history, and Britain will be better off. Keir Starmer and his team have been given that opportunity.

Now it remains to be seen how the new Prime Minister of Britain, Keir Starmer, will lead the country forward. Although there are many challenges ahead of him, it must be said: Farewell Rishi Sunak, and welcome Keir Starmer.

Raihan Ahmed Taufadar: Researcher and Columnist

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