How did this political and economic crisis in the UK come about?

(CNN Spanish) — Three prime ministers in less than three months, a stagnant economy and a skyrocketing cost of living, hurting the most vulnerable sectors: the United Kingdom is going through one of its worst crises in recent years, and all in the midst of war in Ukraine, which has hit the energy supply while the world was barely recovering from the covid-19 pandemic.

Rishi Sunak, a former billionaire banker who had already served as finance minister, has just taken over as prime minister following the resignation of Liz Truss, who in turn had replaced Boris Johnson after his resignation, and there is no certainty that he can successfully maneuver this economic and political crisis.

But how did the UK get into this situation?

The 12 years in power Conservative Party

Sunak, the new British Prime Minister, belongs to the Conservative Party, one of the oldest in the United Kingdom, like his direct predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.

Rishi Sunak, of Indian origin, is the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

The government mandate comes from the triumph of the Tories —as the members of this force that governed for the first time in 1834 are also known— in the early elections of 2019, in which they were the most voted party.

The elections meant a change of leadership through the rise of Johnson, but the Conservative Party was already, in fact, in power with Theresa May, who resigned in 2019 amid a conflict with parliament.

In fact, the Tories they have been in power for more than 12 years: they defeated the Labor Party in 2010, after which David Cameron became prime minister. In total, there were five prime ministers in this current period, and counting.

cycle change?

Prior to that, Labor had governed for 13 years, under the governments of Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown, and their defeat in the 2010 election, which marked the rise of Cameron, was quite a turn and change of era in the UK. United.

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The string of three Conservative prime ministers in three months, emerging from early elections after the also chaotic departure of Theresa May, seem to be showing the accumulated tensions between the Toriesand the latest polls show that the Labor Party could win the elections with a historic majority, if they hold early elections – the general elections must take place between 2024 and 2025.

The Conservatives, however, are determined to stay in office and have chosen Sunak for that.

The impact of Brexit

This last conservative period cannot be thought of, however, without Brexit, the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union in January 2020

The referendum to decide on Brexit was held in 2016 after years of pressure from eurosceptic sectors, and there began the first of a series of political crises and resignations: Cameron, who had supported remaining in the EU, resigned after knowing the favorable result at the exit.

May, who also initially supported staying, later agreed to manage the lengthy exit process, but her draft deal with the EU was unsuccessful and was rejected by parliament three times, after which she resigned.

British Prime Minister David Cameron (Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron. (Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

His replacement, Johnson had indeed been one of the main promoters of Brexit and managed to finalize the departure. But then came the covid-19 pandemic, the lockdowns, the downturn in the economy and scandals over illegal parties involving the prime minister and other officials.

The covid-19 pandemic

The United Kingdom was one of the European countries hardest hit by the covid-19 pandemic, which has left more than 209,000 dead and more than 24 million infections to date, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The call partygatethe scandal surrounding the illegal parties of Johnson and his collaborators carried out in the midst of mandatory confinements, greatly damaged the image of the Conservative government, as well as its handling of the pandemic.

Johnson survived, however, partygatebut was hammered, with the prime minister finally announcing his resignation in July this year amid another scandal over alleged abuse by deputy chief of staff and close aide Chris Pincher, which was first denied and then acknowledged by the government.

a stagnant economy

The economic impact of the pandemic came at a difficult time for the British economy, which had suffered severe blows after the positive Brexit vote, due to expectations, and, after the completion of the exit in 2020, due to specific effects such as the lack labor and operating costs.

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After a long and strong period of growth beginning in the 1980s, UK gross domestic product growth has slowed sharply or even stalled in recent years, according to World Bank data. The effects of the covid-19 pandemic on supply chains and the resulting inflation around the world have further strained the situation.

Truss, precisely, took office to replace Johnson promising to restore growth, and for that he announced a controversial plan based on the reduction of expenses and taxes —nicknamed “Trussonomics”—, added to an increase in public debt.

But this plan was seen as beneficial especially for large corporations, in a context of high cost of living and increasing pressure from energy tariffs, and doubts were raised about how to sustain the tax cuts, and the pound sterling began to fall against the dollar. .

The blow of the war in Ukraine

The last big blow to the British economy was dealt by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, which caused sharp rises in the prices of natural gas, oil and food.

This general increase in the cost of living, which in the United Kingdom was already remarkably high, has mainly harmed the lower-income sectors and further tensed the internal situation in the country: inflation in the country reached 10% year-on-year in September, its highest value in 40 years

Against this background, Sunak said in his first speech as prime minister that the UK was in a “deep economic crisis” and would have to make “difficult decisions” in the immediate future.

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