The Prime Minister has experienced uproar this week. The economy, domestic policy, and Parliamentary wrangling have each brought challenges of their own for Rishi Sunak and his No.10 team.
Rishi Sunak has been accused of not making progress on his ‘five pledges’, which he set out at the beginning of the year to address the UK’s deep-rooted issues that matter to the electorate. Rishi Sunak has tried to say that his administration is making progress on the small boats crisis - but Labour has argued that the data does not match-up given that hundreds more refugees arrive on beaches in the southern counties each day. On public services, the UK continues to be crippled by strikes and, in opinion polling, many voters are still citing a lack of access to key public services as a salient voting issue.
Most worrying for Conservative Party strategists however is the economy, which is viewed as simply not working by the electorate - a sentiment which has imprinted onto Rishi Sunak’s favorability ratings. Inflation remained at 8.7%, above forecasted figures. For the first time since 1961, UK national debt went above 100% of GDP. In response, the Bank of England raised base interest rates by 0.5% to 5% on Thursday. Many are predicting that this move will push the UK into recession which many analysts are noting is necessary to stem stubborn core inflation. The Government has actively briefed the Bank of England for not getting ahead of this crisis sooner. Both Labour and the Conservative Government have come out against support for mortgage holders, adding to the pinch that many throughout the country are feeling.
To top off woes on the policy front, The Tories were plunged into a political civil war at the hands of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his loyalists. At the same time, Parliament voted to accept the Privileges Committee report condemning the former PMs behaviour during lockdown. The Prime Minister came under immense media pressure due to his abstention from the vote, not wanting to aggravate Johsnonites within the Party membership.
Meanwhile, one Sir Keir Starmer can be labelled as nothing other than a lucky general currently. His main political rivals in England and Wales, the Conservatives, are hamstrung by internal factionalism, meanwhile the SNP north of the border is in disarray, dogged by accusations of criminal activity at the very top of the Party.
All of this points to an intense period of campaigning on the part of both Parties, as the July 20th by-elections in Selby and Ainsty and Uxbridge and South Ruislip approach. Labour insiders are growing confident that they can win both contests, backed-up by impressive polling of rural areas published by YouGov and Redfield and Wilton this week. Come the 21st July, Rishi Sunak’s position could well be under some pressure from those in his Party of the opinion that he is not making the progress needed to hold off a Labour landslide in 2024.