Sometimes U.S. and U.K. Politics Seem in Lock Step. Not This Year.

A conservative British prime minister sets a long-awaited vote for early summer, and the United States follows suit with a momentous presidential election a few months later. It happened in 2016, when Britons voted for Brexit and Americans elected Donald J. Trump, and now it’s happening again.

Political pundits may be tempted to study the results of Britain’s general election on July 4 for clues about how the United States might vote on November 5. In 2016, the country’s shock vote to leave the European Union came to be seen as a surprise. A canary in the coal mine marked Mr. Trump’s surprise victory later that year.

However, this time, past may not be prologue. British voters appear to be preparing to elect the opposition Labor Party, perhaps by an overwhelming majority, at the expense of the beleaguered Conservatives, while in the United States, Democratic President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is locked in a fierce battle with Trump and his Republican Party. party.

“We are in a very different place politically than the United States at the moment,” said Robert Ford, a professor of political science at the University of Manchester. The Conservatives have been in power for 14 years, Brexit has faded as a political issue, and there is no British equivalent to Mr. Trump.

To the extent there is a common theme on both sides of the Atlantic, it is “really bad to be an incumbent,” said Ben Ansell, professor of comparative democratic institutions at Oxford University.

By all accounts, Mr Sunak decided to call a snap election a few months ago because he does not expect economic news in Britain to improve between now and the autumn. Analysts said Sunak, who trails Labor by more than 20 percentage points in the polls, is betting the Conservatives can cut their losses by taking on voters now.

Although there is little evidence that the US political calendar played a role in Mr Sunak’s decision, holding the election on July 4 has the added benefit of avoiding any overlap. Had he waited until mid-November, as political skeptics expected, he would have risked being swept away in the wake of the US results.

Political analysts were already debating whether a victory for Mr. Trump would benefit the Conservatives or Labor. Some have assumed that Mr. Sunak could use the turmoil of another Trump presidency as a reason to stick with the Conservative Party, if only because they might get along better with Mr. Trump than with the Labor leader, Keir Starmer.

Now that is irrelevant: Britain will have a new Parliament, and very likely a new Prime Minister, before the Republicans and Democrats hold their conferences.

However, analysts say the British election results could hold lessons for the United States. The two countries remain politically in sync on many issues, whether it is concern over immigration, anger over inflation, or clashes over social and cultural issues.

“Imagine there was a conservative collapse, like there was in Canada in 1993,” Professor Ansell said, referring to the federal election won by the incumbent Progressive Conservative Party. They were all eliminated by the Liberals and even dismissed by the Reform Party as the main right-wing party in Canada.

Britain’s Conservatives face a more moderate version of this threat from the Reform Party UK, the party co-founded by populist Nigel Farage, which is running on an anti-immigration message. In the latest Poll by YouGovThe Reformists, a market research company, had a rating of 14 per cent, while the Conservatives had 22 per cent and Labor had 44 per cent.

Professor Ansell said the rise in reform in the UK “may be a sign of the resurgence of populism in the UK, and could be a harbinger that the same may happen in the fall in the US”.

Conversely, he said, big gains by Britain’s centre-left parties – Labour, as well as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens – may reassure Democrats that their better-than-expected results in the midterms and special elections were not just a fluke but part of a larger global swing. .

Some right-wing critics blame the Conservative Party’s decline on the fact that it has deviated from the economic nationalism that fueled the Brexit vote and the party’s 2019 victory under then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They said conservatives’ embrace of liberal, free-market policies set them apart from Trump’s legions, as well as right-wing movements in Italy and the Netherlands.

“Whatever you think of Trump — he is unstable, he is a danger to democracy — if you look at how he polls, he is doing a much better job than conservatives,” said Matthew Goodwin, a professor of politics at Harvard University. Kent.

Part of the difference, of course, is that Mr. Trump has been out of office for nearly four years, which means that, unlike conservatives, he does not bear responsibility for the cost-of-living crisis. Nor is he to blame for his failure to control the border, as Mr Biden is in the US and Mr Sunak is in Britain.

In his attempt to rally the Conservative base, Sunak is echoing the anti-immigrant themes raised by Brexit campaigners in 2016. He has spent much of his prime ministership promoting a plan to put asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda. This expensive, much-criticized, and unrealized plan has more than a little in common with Mr. Trump’s border wall.

“This was a Trump moment for us,” said Kim Darroch, a former British ambassador to Washington. “But given Keir Starmer’s legacy, you can’t rule out someone from the right wing of the Conservative Party taking advantage of a weak Labor government to return to power in four or five years’ time.”

Despite its symbolic importance, Brexit has rarely emerged as an issue in 2024. Analysts said it reflects voter exhaustion, Conservative recognition that leaving the EU is hurting the British economy, and acceptance that Britain will not rejoin any time soon.

said Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong and a Conservative politician who headed the party in 1992, when it overcame a deficit in the polls to eke out a surprise victory over the Labor Party.

Mr Patten said he was skeptical the Conservatives would pull it off this time, given the depth of voters’ weariness with the party and the differences between Mr Sunak and John Major, the prime minister in 1992.

Conservative MPs appear to share this sense of futility: nearly 80 of them have chosen not to contest their seats, an exodus that includes Michael Gove, who once vied for party leader and has been at the heart of almost every Conservative-led government. Since David Cameron in 2010.

Frank Luntz, an American political strategist who lived and worked in Britain, said that elections in Britain and the United States were driven less by ideological battles than by widespread frustration with the status quo.

“We are in a very different world than we were in 2016,” Mr. Luntz said. “But the one thing that both sides of the Atlantic have in common is a feeling that can be summed up in one word: enough is enough.”

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