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Conservatives and Labor begin election campaign in the United Kingdom

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his rival in the Labor Party, Keir Starmer, began their election campaigns this Thursday (23), each arguing that only they can lift the country out of its economic and economic malaise. political.

Sunak, whose Conservative Party has trailed Labor by around 20 percentage points in opinion polls since becoming prime minister in October 2022, shocked and angered many in his party when he gambled on calling an early election for July 4, months earlier than expected.

He argued Thursday that the economy was turning a corner and that he had a plan to combat illegal immigration. But with inflation at 21% over the past three years and the NHS in trouble due to record waiting times, it may be difficult to convince voters that Britain is on the right track.

Sunak also admitted that the first flights sending illegal migrants to politically iconic Rwanda would not take off before the election.

The former investment banker announced his decision in torrential rain at Downing Street on Wednesday (22), having to shout at protesters who played the song “Things Can Only Get Better” – an anthem associated with the country's landslide election victory. Labor Party in 1997 under Tony Blair, who ended the last long period of Conservative government.

“Economic stability is now returning to the country,” Sunak told GB News television. “While I know not everyone is feeling the full benefits of this yet, it’s clear we’ve turned a corner. Now is the time to look to the future.”

At stake is control of the world's sixth-largest economy, which has endured years of low growth and high inflation, is still struggling to succeed in its 2016 decision to leave the European Union, and is in slow recovery from the twin shocks of Covid. -19 and the increase in energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine.

This scenario makes the economy one of the most important electoral battlegrounds. The two parties are also likely to focus on who can control migration numbers, taxes, spending and security.

Political turmoil

Polls show that voters want change, even if they are not very enthusiastic about Starmer and his Labor Party, after 14 years of Conservative government marked by unprecedented levels of political turmoil and so-called culture war issues.

Coffee shop worker Kitty McMurray, on her way to work, said the country needed elections because it felt like everything was falling apart. “Come on,” said the 29-year-old.

Both party leaders are expected to begin campaigning, looking to build on the initial momentum, meeting with voters and delivering the messages they hope will win them enough seats in parliament to form a majority government on July 5.

Starmer, the country's former chief prosecutor who pulled Labor politics back to the center after it fell to the left under his predecessor, has promised to bring stability – and change – to a disaffected electorate.

“Labour will end the chaos, turn the page and reclaim Britain’s future,” he said in an opening campaign message to party members, describing the election as “the fight of our lives”.

If Labor were to win the election, Starmer would become the sixth British Prime Minister in eight years, the first time this has happened since the 1830s, underlining the level of turmoil that has gripped a country once known for its political stability and pragmatism.

As the election campaign continues, activity in parliament is also expected to increase as the government decides which of the pieces of legislation currently being processed will be rushed through and which will be left aside.

The laws under discussion include Sunak's plan to impose some of the strictest anti-smoking rules in the world, banning forever the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after January 1, 2009.

Source: CNN Brasil

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