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Thanks to you.

The first phase of the “primaries” for the “conservative leadership race” (to the bottom…) ended yesterday. The two finalists will be Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss and we will know the new Prime Minister on 5/09. Hobson’s choice in a way.

Truss, decked out with a few funny nicknames (maybe in another post), is the overwhelming favorite and unless there is a turnaround during the August “hustings” (the campaign, meetings, etc.), she should win .

She is considered the “Boris Johnson’s continuity candidate”. Straight line therefore lasts, ready for example to continue the fight with the EU, in particular on the Northern Irish agreement. Last month, as Foreign Secretary, Truss introduced the – illegal – bill to overhaul the “NIP” (Northern Ireland Protocol), see link.

Clearly, she wants to continue to clash with the EU in this delicate matter, even if it means taking reprisals from customs and others from the EU. The British will be forced to give ground on this but they could continue to play dumb for a while (in particular by threatening to trigger Article 16 link), a matter of saving face, pretending to hold the levers of control and trolling the EU. This kind of imperial posture appeals to their Brexiteer electorate.

Also US pressure for the UK to respect this international treaty. The Americans who have been hanging around – for three years – for a big global FTA, free trade agreement. Where, of course, the US will seek to thoroughly confound the UK, in a weak position, on agri-business, the big healthcare sector, etc. probably in the name of the “special relationship” that has united the two countries since WWII link)

Remember that this international treaty was signed with enthusiasm by Boris Johnson in January 2020 (“an excellent agreement”), after 3 years of acrimonious negotiations. Johnson who promised at the time, autumn 2019 (while campaigning for his election) “the moon on a stick” (mountains and wonders) to everyone and especially to British businesses and exporters-importers, trumpeting that there would never be border between the IdN and the rest of the UK, no checks, no paperwork, in short, nothing would change. He had even famously bawled link
“And if you are bored with customs forms, throw them in the trash! There will never be any customs barriers in the Irish Sea in the United Kingdom’s withdrawal agreement from the European Union.” See link “Johnson tells Northern Ireland businesses to ‘bin’ customs forms. Boris Johnson told supporters there would be ‘no forms, no checks, no barriers of any kind’ on goods crossing the Irish sea after Brexit.”)

It is true that from the point of view of the Conservatives it is always useful, even desirable, to have a lot of enemies, or “frenemies” link (friends-enemies), and having various enmities and “culture wars” on fire like that, but not sure that must be the right tactic in this case. The tide has turned on this subject in the UK and a (small) majority of Britons now express, in various polls, that Brexit/leaving the EU “was the wrong decision”. Only convinced Brexiters, those of the first hour (estimated at 25-30% of voters in the referendum), cling to their chimeras.

Truss is therefore favorite to beat Sunak. The latter ticks a lot of boxes at the “credentials” level (references) and is from the seraglio (extremely wealthy, ultra-elite private school education, PPE license in Oxford, like Truss for that matter, etc. See this article on the PPE sector, which plays an essential role in the UK, I mentioned this subject of the EPP six months ago, here at the end of the post link, with link to a Guardian article titled “PPE: the Oxford degree that runs Britain”. Oxford University graduates in philosophy, politics and economics make up an astonishing proportion of Britain’s elite.”) but he is of Indian origin, which is not exactly an advantage among the approximately 150,000 party members who will vote in August – relatively old, 97% white, etc. Also, as former number 2 of govt Johnson, he is much more contaminated by the cumbersome Johnson heritage than Truss (admittedly, also a minister under Johnson but, unlike Sunak, she did not let go of the Spaffer, a loyalty appreciated by the base).

The latest YouGov poll, carried out among a sample of inserters, gives Sunak a large loser (54% vs 35%). He has some (seemingly) awkward pans, like his wife’s tax status, I talked about that in my last posts 8 days ago.
The fact that he was the instigator of Johnson’s forced resignation has also somewhat tarnished his image with the base, where a “Johnson cult” remains, for various reasons but above all because “he made Brexit happen” (big lol As Billy Bragg tweets here link“Johnson ‘delivered’ Brexit? Brexit has only been delivered in the sense that a flat-pack of furniture is delivered. It hasn’t been assembled yet because it won’t fit through the front door, several of the most important pieces are missing and the instructions are in Russian.”).

We have also seen some surprising Brexit slogans during this campaign, including “Get Brexit re-done” (Penny Mordaunt) and “Keep Brexit safe” (Rishi Sunak), as if it were a poor injured hedgehog or lost on the side of the road and pamper it. Slogans that say a lot about the state of Brexit. Truss is also seen as “more patriotic” than Sunak, a trait that matters to Conservatives. Sunak is also unfavorable to a reduction in taxes and duties, which worries the members a little (Truss, in good demagoguery, is of course campaigning “on a reduction in all taxes”).

Note, however, that since the arrival of the Conservatives in 2010, taxes have continued to increase in this country. So the bullshit from the Tories and Boris Johnson lately (in “review time”), about a so-called “unprecedented tax cut in decades” or something like that, it’s all beautiful lies, Except that t’s no longer called “lies” in the post-truth era of course, what am I stupid, but “alternative facts”.

Not one tax or fee has been reduced, quite the contrary. Even pension contributions have soared (and the basis for calculation changed, unfavorably for employees, favorably for the State). The “National Insurance” contribution, around 10% of the gross salary, has even just increased, in April, by 13% on average; it varies according to salaries but it is in these waters. And when taxes have seemingly stagnated, like income tax brackets, they have actually increased, a phenomenon due to what is called the “fiscal drag”: the amounts of the tax brackets are frozen, or just like, so from year to year more and more people are caught up in these brackets, that of 40% for example).

Sunak’s credit is often due to his economic management of the pandemic, including the introduction of “furlough” for 18 months (technical unemployment, an unprecedented measure here, the amounts of which have been deemed generous. But it is starting to backfire, “too generous” say some, to the tune of “we gave too much to the welfare recipients”, etc. and “now, because of them, we have a record national debt and galloping inflation”. to come back to it but the demonization, most often on the right, of the poor and the assisted will really nestle in every corner).

In an attempt to turn the tide, Sunak has in recent days promised to abolish all new wind turbine installation projects… link, it should enchant quite a few of the 150,000 inserts, often described as belonging to the rightist wing of the Conservative Party, already well on the right. These members are elderly, often well off or not to be pitied, and here in England this means that they often live in the countryside or in peri-urban/rurban areas and are therefore fervent supporters of “NIMBYism” (Not In My Back Garden, in d’ other words: go put your crap that ruins our view elsewhere).

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