UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak under pressure from right-wing Conservatives

After a long festive sequence marked by the coronation of King Charles III and then the holding of Eurovision in Liverpool, politics is returning to center stage in the United Kingdom and, with it, nervousness within the Conservative Party.

The elected officials took the measure of the catastrophic results of the local election of May 4, during which the tories lost more than 1,000 municipal councilors in favor of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to change gears to avoid a crushing defeat in the next general election in 2024.

For the past few days, the head of government has been under attack from the right wing of the party, frustrated by a leader deemed not conservative enough or not Brexit enough, although he voted to leave the European Union (EU) during of the 2016 referendum. On Saturday May 13, a few hundred Tory activists gathered in Bournemouth, a seaside resort in the south of England, at the call of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, a Boris Johnson fan club. The latter was not present but his supporters kept talking about him, regretting his departure in the summer of 2022, when the former prime minister had been pushed out by the accumulation of scandals.

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They also called for policies ” Really “ conservatives and tax cuts, while Rishi Sunak refused to give up the rise in corporate taxes at the beginning of 2023 to stabilize public finances, shaken by the disastrous mandate of Liz Truss, who had succeeded briefly to Mr. Johnson in the fall of 2022.

The most frontal attack came from Priti Patel, Boris Johnson’s former home secretary, who accused Rishi Sunak of being content with “managing decline” of the Conservative Party and suggested that he spend more time with Tory activists “to be more in touch with people and our conservative values”.

A budget that “could have been presented by Labor”

Boris Johnson does not pose an immediate threat to Rishi Sunak: his political career is at the mercy of the conclusions of the parliamentary inquiry into “partygate” – parties in Downing Street during the Covid-19 pandemic -, which could be returned in June. The commission must establish whether the former prime minister lied to the deputies about the existence of these holidays. However, the fact that his circle of followers is agitated is a source of concern for Downing Street, which wants to definitively close the long chaotic parenthesis of the Johnson and Truss eras.

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