All eyes were on the special relationship this week. No, not the one between Prince Harry and the British press, but the old favourite - the UK and the US.
Rishi Sunak and Joe Biden met this week to discuss tackling global economic challenges. The PM has been under pressure in the UK to introduce measures that address the obstacles posed to UK business by the US Inflation Act, which has had a knock-on effect on the global economy, often adding inflationary pressures on US partners such as the UK. Numerous British PMs have also come under successive pressure to secure a US / UK trade deal, which was much touted during the Brexit campaign.
Rishi Sunak didn’t quite come away from his stateside visit with that sort of victory. The headline was the announcement of an ‘Atlantic Declaration’. The Declaration is a set of ‘mini-deals’ designed to encourage closer economic ties between the UK and the US in the face of an emerging Russia / China relationship.
The deal mitigates some of the issues caused by Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), with proposals for a critical minerals agreement to remove barriers which affected trade in electric vehicle batteries, approve the UK as a “domestic source” under US defence procurement laws, allow greater American investment in British firms, and supply chain resilience. The agreement will also include a push for mutual recognition of qualifications for engineers, although this could require state-by-state approval in the US.
Once the media dust settled around the agreement and analysts began reading further into the detail, there was fear that this was ‘the best of a bad situation’, and the announcement of the agreement really signalled an end to hope of any trade deal between the two states in the immediate future. The US, in the meantime, is focussing on trade with the EU, and managing tensions in the Indo-Pacific.
While the Labour Party continues its strong lead in opinion polls, there is worry that the Party is losing some momentum of late. Despite Keir Starmer’s best efforts to position that Party as the ‘dignified’ alternative to the scandal-ridden Conservatives, Labour has still been hit by a plague of misconduct complaints, culminating with the removal of the whip from Bambos Charalambous. This is in addition to a number of other Labour MPs
Labour has also had to row-back a number of policy pledges made throughout this current Parliament. This week, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves revised a spending pledge that would have seen the country borrow £28 billion to fund green initiatives. Instead, the Party has now promised to deliver this £28 billion investment by the end of the next Parliament. Polling still places Labour as a favourite to win the next election, but this lead is seemingly shrinking by the week. The question hanging over Keir Starmer’s head is how can Labour sustain a strong lead for the next 15 months.