U.K. leader Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives suffer more election losses
Rishi Sunak’s ruling Conservative Party suffered significant setbacks as scandals and soaring inflation took a toll on voter confidence. While the Conservatives managed to retain the former seat of ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, they faced heavy defeats in two other constituencies.
Rishi Sunak, who was at risk of becoming the first prime minister to lose three parliamentary seats in one day, narrowly avoided this humiliation by securing a narrow victory in Uxbridge and South Ruislip. However, the party was dealt severe blows with the loss of its 19,000 majority in the Somerton and Frome seat and its 20,000 majority in the Selby and Ainsty constituency. These losses come as a harsh blow ahead of the expected general election next year.
As the main opposition, the Labour Party is riding high with double-digit poll leads and stands poised to take power for the first time in over a decade. The Labour Party has won six by-elections since March of the previous year, two of which were captured from the Conservatives.
The outcome in Uxbridge and South Ruislip was a surprise, as the Tories were expected to lose that seat. Nonetheless, they managed to secure a narrow win by 13,965 votes to 13,470, dealing a blow to Labour leader Keir Starmer and London’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Rishi Sunak, facing challenges in his leadership, has kept a low profile during the campaign. Although projecting a business-as-usual image, he privately briefed backbench MPs to brace for the worst. Sunak took office in October the year before after the short-lived tenure of predecessor Liz Truss, successfully stabilizing financial markets after her radical tax-slashing agenda. However, Sunak has struggled to reverse the party’s declining fortunes, exacerbated by the “Partygate” scandal under Johnson’s leadership. High inflation has further hampered his turnaround efforts, causing concern in the markets.
With interest rates at their highest level in 15 years, mortgage and borrowing costs have surged, contributing to the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation. Sunak’s promises to halve inflation, boost economic growth, and reduce waiting times in the overstretched National Health Service have seen limited progress, sparking fears that the UK might face a recession this year due to the constraints on spending caused by high interest rates.
As the election results unfold, Sunak’s net favourability has hit its lowest level since he took office, with a YouGov poll indicating that two-thirds of Britons have an unfavorable view of him. The coming months will undoubtedly prove critical for both the Conservative Party and Rishi Sunak as they grapple with the challenges ahead.