Rishi Sunak is wrong. The country needs a general election as soon as possible – Scotsman comment

Prime Minister’s lack of a personal mandate means he does not have true democratic authority – and it shows

After Liz Truss was forced to resign as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak essentially ‘emerged’ as Conservative leader in the old-fashioned style because no other MP stood against him. In a field of one, he was the winner.

Despite this lack of democratic authority, he has been taking some big decisions about the UK’s future, chief among them the watering down of the UK’s net-zero targets. He’s also expected to cancel the Birmingham-Manchester leg of the HS2 rail link – a major plank of the Conservatives’ laudable attempts to revitalise northern England’s economy, which doubtless persuaded many voters there to support Boris Johnson’s very different style of government at the last general election.

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Such decisions have led some to question Sunak’s mandate and suggest there should be a general election. However, to no one’s surprise, he says that now is not the time. “That’s not what the country wants. I go out and about every day. That’s not what anybody wants,” he told Sky News.

Sunak’s insistence that he knows this is an echo of Brexiteer rhetoric in which public opinion, aka “the will of the people”, is forcibly enlisted in support of whatever idea the speaker is trying to promote. If the Prime Minister has been conducting his own amateur polling about a general election, he really should stop doing so and leave it to the experts. Given a weekend poll put support for the Conservatives at 29 per cent, it’s probably likely that the vast majority of remaining 71 per cent would back an election.

Even some loyal Tories might relish their party being put out of its current misery. By contrasting sharply with the disastrous Truss, Sunak initially offered the nation some hope. However, the open jostling for position by ministers eager to replace Sunak demonstrates the level of discontent within even his own Cabinet.

A general election is expected next year, but could be held as late as January 2025. The prospect of this lame-duck government waddling along, quacking tedious three-word soundbites, for another 15 months will, we suspect, fill many with dread. It’s past time to go to the polls.



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