UK Election 2024: Everything you need to know



CNN

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has taken the biggest gamble of his turbulent premiership Calling for early general elections And almost everyone in Westminster believes he will lose.

We’ll soon know whether the decision was a masterstroke or a mistake.

A frenetic six-week campaign will dominate the UK airwaves, once again putting political battles front and center in a country exhausted by its own turbulent state turmoil.

if, As current opinion polls indicateWith the victory of the opposition Labor Party, the curtain will finally come down on the 14-year era of Conservative rule, ushering in a centre-left government led by former lawyer Keir Starmer.

Any other result would mean that Sunak has engineered a shock victory that even many in his party believe is out of reach – and will result in the Conservatives extending their political dynasty towards the two-decade mark.

Here are some of the key questions answered.

Why did Sunak call an election now – and is it a gamble?

Sunak was forced to call an election by December and hold it by the following month, but until that deadline – five years after the last vote – the decision to hold the election remains a gift to the prime minister.

Sunak told reporters at a reception last December that it would happen in 2024, not January 2025, and recently said his “assumption” was that it would happen in the second half of the year – around the Fourth of July.

But beyond these clues, he remained silent while he weighed his options, fueling feverish speculation in Westminster for months.

The main problem he faces is the lack of good options. Sunak is down nearly 20 points in the polls, and that deficit hasn’t budged all year.

The economy is bleak, and one line of thinking among his aides is that waiting until October or November would give the economy enough time to stabilize.

Maja Smijkowska/Reuters

Sunak announced the election in a speech outside Downing Street on Wednesday, a stormy opening to his six-week campaign.

But on the other hand, Sunak has invested a lot of his political capital in his pledge to stop the crossing of asylum seekers by small boats into the UK. He recently passed a controversial law to address some claims in Rwanda, although no one has been deported yet, and the plan may await further legal challenges.

Meanwhile, the warmer summer months are expected to see a significant number of such trips across the English Channel, damaging a key pillar of his campaign message.

Ultimately, hours after some rare good economic news – a healthy drop in the inflation rate month-on-month – Sunak decided Wednesday was the least bad time to pull the trigger.

The almost universal expectation is that Sunak’s Conservative Party will lose the election.

Labor has been leading the general election polls since late 2021, and this lead has been huge throughout Sunak’s prime ministership. They led by around 20 points on average, with the Conservatives often closer to third-party rivals such as the Reform Party and the Liberal Democrats than to Labour.

When converted into a projection of seats in Parliament, these figures suggest either a comfortable Labor win or a Labor win so big that it would result in the Conservatives being almost completely wiped out.

The Conservative Party brand was damaged by Partygate and a number of other scandals that led to the demise of Boris Johnson’s prime ministership, and then the chaotic six-week term of his successor Liz Truss, whose fiscal agenda roiled markets.

Stefan Russo/Getty Images

Boris Johnson the day after he won the election in 2019. That vote seemed to mark the beginning of a new political dynasty – instead, the scandal-plagued Johnson was gone by mid-2022.

But for Team Sunak, some deeper numbers provide some comfort. While Keir Starmer is ahead of Sunak in the polls on the question of who would be a better prime minister, this lead is much smaller than the party’s overall vote gap – suggesting that Sunak will seek to keep the focus on the “me versus him” message.

Some pollsters have also suggested that the recent local elections may suggest a Labor win by less than the polls, but it is very difficult to extrapolate nationwide projections from local votes in just some parts of the country.

Sunak may also draw courage from an unexpected source: former left-wing Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, who began the 2017 general election facing a similar deficit and was eventually forced into a hung parliament, with a narrow loss to Theresa May.

However, Sunak has been unable to move the polls in his favor since becoming leader – and he has just six weeks to do so to pull off a stunning upset victory.

Watch this interactive content on CNN.com

Party leaders have already begun their election campaign, but Parliament has a few days to wrap up any pressing issues before it is formally dissolved, 25 days before polling day.

Once this happens, the Parliament that was formed in the previous general election of 2019 will cease to exist – and all current legislators will no longer be MPs.

Sunak’s government will continue to run the country, albeit structurally.

The main priority for each party will be the weeks-long rush across the country, where party leaders will seek to be photographed knocking on doors, posing in high-visibility vests and meeting members of the public.

A series of TV debates are also likely to take place, with Sunak and Starmer coming face to face.

Then on Thursday 4 July, Britons will cast their votes between 7am and 10pm local time, and once the polls close, the votes will be counted. The winner is usually announced in the early hours of Friday morning.

Henry Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images

Sunak held a campaign event in central England on Thursday, the start of a grueling calendar of events for all parties.

Rishi Sunak’s rival for power is Labor leader Keir Starmer, who is highly likely to become Britain’s new prime minister in July.

A highly respected former human rights lawyer and then Britain’s chief prosecutor, Starmer entered politics late in life. He became a Labor MP in 2015, and less than five years later became party leader, having taken on the role of Shadow Brexit Secretary during the protracted Brexit.

Starmer inherited a party suffering its worst electoral defeat in generations, but he has prioritized a comprehensive overhaul of its culture – lashing out at left-wing supporters of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, and publicly apologizing for the long-running anti-Semitism scandal that has tarnished the party’s standing. With the audience.

Gareth Fuller / Pennsylvania

Labor leader Keir Starmer – the election front-runner – launches his election campaign in Gillingham on Thursday.

He has tried to claim Britain’s central political position, and his supporters describe him as a serious, principled leader focused on tackling the systemic issues facing Britain. But his opponents, both from the left of his party and the right of the political spectrum, say he lacks charisma and ideas, and accuse him of failing to articulate an ambitious, broad vision for the nation.

Who else is standing?

Only Sunak or Starmer have a realistic chance of becoming prime minister, but their plans could be derailed by a number of minor parties.

Sunak is particularly vulnerable to the success of the Reform Party – a right-wing group trying to outflank him on immigration – and the Liberal Democrats, a centrist pro-European group that has reduced Conservative support in wealthy southern parts of England. .

Given Labour’s standing in the polls, Starmer is more willing to take the fight to other groups. North of the border, he will look to end the SNP’s generation-long dominance of the ballot box, capitalizing on it. Rocky period In the party’s modern history, which has seen two leaders replaced in just over a year.

But he must watch out for the Green Party, which has challenged him from the left and attracted some young liberal votes as a result.

In recent local elections, there was also evidence that Labour’s position on the war waged by Israel against Hamas in Gaza had hurt the party in Muslim-majority areas.

In the United Kingdom, voters do not directly elect the Prime Minister. Instead, they elect a Member of Parliament (MP) to represent their local constituency.

The leader of the party that wins the majority of the UK’s 650 electoral districts automatically becomes prime minister and can form a government. This means that 326 is the magic number for an overall majority.

If there is no majority, they will have to look for help elsewhere, govern as a minority government – ​​as Theresa May did after a close result in 2017 – or form a coalition, as David Cameron did after 2010.

The king has an important role. King Charles III must approve the formation of the government, the decision to hold elections and dissolve Parliament. But this is only a formal role; The king will not oppose his prime minister or overturn the election results.

The answer to this question will go a long way in determining tonight’s winner.

Labor will be keen to define the election as a referendum on 14 years of Conservative rule, exploiting public fatigue with the party that has produced five prime ministers in that period and overseen Brexit, a faltering economy and a series of corruption scandals.

In particular, Starmer will speak frequently about the cost of living hitting British families, and the overstaffed state of the National Health Service (NHS).

By contrast, Sunak will want to focus on immigration – his pledge to “stop the boats” has yet to succeed, but his flagship policy in Rwanda is at least now law. He will try to convince voters that the economy has passed a difficult stage, and he cannot risk changing the government.

Early signs also show he is trying to make the leadership issue central to voters’ minds – highlighting his time as finance minister during the Covid-19 pandemic in his maiden speech, and criticizing Starmer’s record.

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