faced with the surge of the far right, Sunak threatened with “a ‘Canadian-style’ disappearance” – L’Express

how Rishi Sunaks repeated blunders are weakening his campaign –

It’s done. The “long-awaited” moment of crossover has arrived, let go BBC. In a YouGov poll commissioned by The Times with a view to the general elections on July 4, and published last week, the Reform UK populists have overtaken the conservatives (Tories) in voting intentions. A first for this political group, heir to the Ukip independence movement which became the Brexit Party in January 2019.

Enough to cause “doubts” among British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about “the relevance of his decision to call the elections in advance”, points out pollster Sir John Curtice on the air of the oldest channel in the world. Because since 2022, Parliament no longer has a fixed mandate, which leaves the head of government free to dissolve the House of Commons upon simple request to the sovereign. After the defeat of the Conservatives in the local elections last May, Rishi Sunak asked Charles III to call new elections.

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An unprecedented breakthrough for the populist movement

Except that, according to estimates from the British weekly The Economist (liberal), the conservatives could well suffer one of their worst electoral setbacks. The Tories risk being “abandoned” by 7 to 9 of the 14 million voters who supported them during the last general elections, in 2019. In the polls, the Tories are only given 18% of voting intentions. vote, “the lowest level in British history”, underlines The Times (center right), while Reform UK prances at 19%, where it only obtained 2% in 2019.

Added to this unprecedented surge which hangs like a sword of Damocles over the old party is the question of a massive presence of candidates running under the Reform UK label. “In 2019, the Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage, precursor of Reform, decided not to run against the Conservatives in many constituencies, a decision which helped Boris Johnson obtain a Conservative majority of 80 seats”, recalls the American newspaper Washington Post (center). Clemency that the reformists decided to abandon for this election.

Towards a division of right-wing votes

So The Guardian (center left) anticipates and headlines: “The division of the right-wing vote by the reformists could prove devastating for the conservatives.” Conservatives who could, according to The Economist, “to be even more mistreated on July 4” than at the end of the local election of May 2. Same story Washington Post which believes that “Reform UK could siphon off Conservative votes across the country, helping Labor and the centrist Liberal Democrats win more seats”. According to the Daily mail (conservative right), Nigel Farage even “predicted” internal wars within the Conservative party.

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Faced with the risk of an electoral debacle, The Economist invokes a thirty-year-old reference: the Canadian election of 1993, during which the Conservative Party obtained only two seats. “The Tories fear a ‘Canadian-style’ disappearance”, mocks the British weekly in the wake of The Independent (center left) Who refreshes memories: “In Canada, the result spelled the disappearance of 167 parliamentary seats – including those of then-Prime Minister Kim Campbell.” And to sound the alarm: “The similarities are enough to make conservative candidates shudder.”

A conservative party that is “too” centrist?

Moreover, “privately, the conservatives have been worried for many months about the risk posed by the reformists”, slips the BBC. Because if the predictions are confirmed at the polls on July 4 and the conservative party suffers a “humiliating” defeat, it could well be forced to move closer to the center, phosphorus The Economist. Problem, a questioning of the Tories will not be easy: “The first step for a rejected party is generally denial, particularly in defeat,” specifies the weekly.

But for The Spectator (conservative) the original sin of the Tories lies precisely in the moderation of the Conservative leaders in recent years. Initiated by David Cameron, “conservative centrism” has since been defended by all conservative leaders up to Rishi Sunak. “Meanwhile, the natural conservative vote demands much stronger responses to the anxieties of the times – excessive immigration, the rise of radical Islam and the breakdown of everyday law and order being the main among them”, analyzes the Eurosceptic weekly.

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The BBC notably takes up a study carried out by the polling group More in Common which reveals that voters considering supporting Reform UK overwhelmingly cite immigration as their main reason. But also refugees and Brexit. This, “well before the admiration for Nigel Farage – or the aversion for Keir Starmer, the leader of Labor or Rishi Sunak”. Still, it would be imprudent to omit the weight of the figure of populist leader Nigel Farage in the breakthrough of the anti-immigration party.

The Nigel Farage effect?

The simple announcement of the candidacy of the former trader caused a shock wave within the conservative party. They who thought they were rid of this “populist incendiary”, according to the formula of our colleagues from Washington Post. Even more so after he announced that he would not run in these elections. “It was more important to support my ally Donald Trump during the American presidential election in November,” the unsuccessful candidate of the last seven general elections then justified.

But by ultimately deciding to run in the constituency of Clacton in the south-east of England, Nigel Farage is ruining the Conservatives’ chances of getting back ahead of Labor, which stands at 37% of voting intentions. “The electoral prospects of the Conservatives have worsened considerably with the entry into the running of the populist Nigel Farage at the head of the right-wing Reform UK party”, we can read in the columns of the Washington Post. And although a Reform tidal wave remains unlikely at this stage, Reform UK continues to thrive in the polls, “largely at the expense of the Conservatives”.