Where does the UK stand as it heads to the polls?

The British elect a new parliament today, and it seems the question is no longer whether Labour will win but how heavy the losses will be for the Tory government. Polls put Keir Starmer's party around 20 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives. Commentators ponder the reasons and look ahead.

Open/close all quotes
Rádio Renascença (PT) /

Labour just needs to avoid glaring mistakes to win

The Tories' disastrous track record of recent years plays right into Labour's hands, says Radio Renascença:

“British politics has been in turmoil for years. Not only have the scandals multiplied, involving even the highest political office holders, but the promises made by the Brexiteers have proven to be a fantasy - they had promised the impossible. ... After failing to secure a favourable post-Brexit deal with the EU, the British economy is stagnating and poverty is on the rise in the UK. ... All the Labour Party has to do to win the election is avoid making any glaring mistakes.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

British voters will take revenge today

Voters have all kinds of reasons to dump the Tories, says the Irish Examiner:

“It may be disgust over the behaviour of wine-swilling political aides during lockdown; ... the failures of managerial classes as epitomised by the Post Office/Horizon farrago; sewage contaminating the country's rivers while privatised companies take dividends; the inability of young people to enter the housing market; fatigue over high taxation; the lack of any discernible resolution of immigration policy; ... . And even, in the dying days of a moribund government, the pantomime of its members trying to make a few quid by betting against themselves to continue.”

El País (ES) /

High time for reforms

The Tories have had their day, El País concurs:

“The legacy of the five Tory prime ministers shows a negative balance sheet, starting with David Cameron's 2008 austerity measures. ... Those measures created permanent severe imbalances in the UK economy. ... The legacy of Brexit, Theresa May's negligence and Boris Johnson's reckless demagoguery will remain the darkest stain. ... Rishi Sunak had neither the time nor the talent to correct the British public's dreadful perception of his government. ... The UK needs profound economic, political and social reforms which are already long overdue.”

Politiken (DK) /

Brexit is the elephant in the room

Politiken puts in:

“The elephant in the room in the election campaign is Brexit, which neither the Conservatives nor the Labour Party are talking about. This is implausible because leaving the EU is at the very least one of the causes behind the UK's numerous crises and the former superpower's current faltering course. It will hardly get any better if the architect of Brexit, Nigel Farage, the deeply manipulative pro-Trumpist, succeeds in winning a seat for his Reform UK party. He is the last person into whose arms the Conservatives should throw themselves. ”

The Guardian (GB) /

Restore confidence in the political process

The next government must seek to shore up democracy's credibility, says The Guardian:

“The ballot is a moment of engagement, a contract where the public hires its leaders. The right also to fire them is crucial, but stability in the intervening years requires patience on the part of the electorate, which in turn depends on trust in the decision-makers. ... The next government will face diverse challenges, but tackling them all in a manner that raises the reputation of democracy itself is an overarching duty. Whatever the result, polling day marks a potential new start. It is an opportunity to begin the task of restoring depleted confidence in the political process.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Boring approach could be just what UK needs

Dagens Nyheter hopes that Starmer will bring about a rapprochement with the EU:

“Starmer has promised small steps in the right direction. This may be boring and unimaginative, but at the moment it's probably exactly the kind of project Britain can handle. ... During the Corbyn years Starmer was the most prominent Labour politician campaigning for a second referendum - to abolish Brexit. These days he is more reticent on the topic. British membership of the EU is probably several decades away. But few things would do more to boost the economy and stimulate investment than a rapprochement with Brussels.”

The Times (GB) /

Journey without a clear destination

A change of course is no guarantee of stability, The Times laments:

“[Labour] doesn't know if it wishes to be the party of open free markets and it doesn't know exactly what it thinks about immigration. Like the Tories in 2019, it will win many seats whose voters make incompatible demands. ... The big deciding fact of this election - that after 14 years of Conservative government people want change - will produce a very large Labour majority indeed. But this should not be mistaken for political stability. Labour's victory will be wide but it may also prove shallow.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

No one is listening to the Tories' warnings

Angry voters are in denial about how much damage Labour will inflict on the middle classes, rails The Daily Telegraph:

“If Sir Keir Starmer wins on Thursday I warn you not to be reasonably well-off, not to have accumulated a sizeable pension pot, not to live in the Green Belt, not to be an entrepreneur and not to worry about your country's borders. These points, indeed, have been the basis of the Tory campaign; only no one is listening any more, assuming they have even taken much notice from the start.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Overcome the British-European trauma

Corriere della Sera hopes that the election will mark the start of a post-Brexit phase:

“Britain has much to gain by restoring its relations with Europe's market and political entity. The EU would also benefit, especially at a time of international unrest, wars and a changing global economy. The second aspect is too rarely considered. The British have paid a price for their decision and for the inability of their Conservative governments to turn the Brexit into a positive thing; but the Europeans have also suffered from the consequences of the 2016 referendum - something that is often swept under the carpet. Recognising this on both sides would bring considerable benefits for everyone.”