Sometimes the policies of the United States and the United Kingdom seem to be in sync. Not this year.

A conservative British prime minister sets the date for a long-awaited vote in early summer and the United States follows 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 fortune tellers might be tempted to study the results of the British general election on July 4 for clues about how the United States would vote on November 5. After all, in 2016, the country’s surprise vote to leave the European Union came to be seen as a canary in the coal mine for Trump’s surprise victory that same year.

However, this time the past may not be prologue. British voters appear set to elect the opposition Labor Party, possibly by a landslide margin, over the embattled Conservatives, while in the United States, a Democratic president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., is in a fight with Trump and his Republican Party. . supporters.

“We’re just in a very different political place than the United States right now,” said Robert Ford, a professor of politics at the University of Manchester. The Conservatives have been in power for 14 years, he noted, Brexit has faded as a political issue and there is no British equivalent of Trump.

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

By all indications, Sunak decided to call an election a few months early because he does not expect Britain’s economic news to improve between now and the fall. Analysts said Sunak, who is more than 20 percentage points behind Labor in most polls, is betting that the Conservatives can reduce their losses by facing voters now.

Although there is little evidence that the American political calendar influenced Sunak’s decision, holding an election on July 4 has the added benefit of avoiding any overlap. Had he waited until November 17, as political gamblers had predicted, he would have risked being swept up in the fallout from the American results.

Political analysts were already debating whether a Trump victory would benefit the Conservatives or Labor. Some posited that Sunak could use the interruption of Trump’s restoration as an argument to stick with the Conservatives, if only because they could get along better with Trump than Labor leader Keir Starmer.

Now, that’s irrelevant: Britain will have a new Parliament, and most likely a new prime minister, even before the Republicans and Democrats hold their conventions.

Still, the shape and scale of the British election results could offer lessons for the United States, analysts said. The two countries are still politically in sync on many issues, whether anxiety over immigration, anger over inflation or clashes over social and cultural issues.

“Imagine there is a Conservative collapse, like in Canada in 1993,” Professor Ansell said, referring to a federal election in which the incumbent Progressive Conservative Party was virtually annihilated by the Liberals and even sidelined by the Reform Party. Canada’s main right-wing party.

British Conservatives face a softer version of that threat from Reform UK, a party co-founded by populist figure Nigel Farage, which runs on an anti-immigration message. In the latest poll by YouGov, a market research firm, conducted just before Sunak called the election, Reform was on 12 per cent, while the Conservatives were on 21 per cent and Labor on 46 per cent. Other polls since the announcement have shown little movement.

Growing reform in the UK, Professor Ansell said, “could be a sign that populism is on the rise again in the UK, and it could be a harbinger and harbinger that the same could happen in the fall in the United States.” ”.

By contrast, he said, significant gains by Britain’s center-left parties – Labor, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens – could reassure Democrats in the United States that their better-than-expected results in the midterms and specials were not a coincidence but a coincidence. sign of the resilience of progressive politics worldwide.

Some right-wing critics of the Conservative Party blame its decline on the fact that it has moved away from the economic nationalism that drove the Brexit vote in 2016 and the party’s landslide victory in 2019 under then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Conservatives’ embrace of liberal, free-market policies, they said, has left the party out of step with Trump’s MAGA legions, as well as right-wing movements in Italy, the Netherlands and France.

“Whatever you think about Trump – he’s unstable, he’s a danger to democracy – if you look at the polls, he’s doing a hell of a lot better than the conservatives,” said Matthew Goodwin, a politics professor at the University of Kent. .

Part of the difference, of course, is that Trump has been out of office for almost four years, meaning that he, unlike conservatives, is not blamed for the cost of living crisis. He is also not blamed for not controlling the border, since Biden is in the United States and Sunak is in Britain.

In his bid to mobilize the Conservative base, Sunak is sounding notes that echo the anti-immigrant themes of Brexit campaigners in 2016. To stop the flow of small boats crossing the English Channel, he has spent much of his term as prime minister promoting a plan. putting asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda. Expensive, much criticized and unrealized, it has more than little in common with Trump’s border wall.

“This has been sort of our Trump moment,” said Kim Darroch, a former British ambassador to Washington. “But given the legacy that Keir Starmer will inherit, it cannot be ruled out that someone on the right wing of the Conservative Party will take advantage of a weak Labor government to return to power in four or five years.”

And yet Brexit, which was decided in the 2016 referendum but dominated British politics for years afterward, has barely figured in 2024. Analysts said that reflects voter exhaustion, an acknowledgment among Conservatives that Leaving the European Union was damaging to the British economy and an acceptance that Britain will not rejoin any time soon.

“You can’t talk about Brexit because both parties are terrified of what will happen if you let the dog off the leash,” said Chris Patten, former Hong Kong governor and conservative politician who chaired the party in 1992, when it overcame a deficit in the polls to achieve a surprise victory over the Labor Party.

Patten said he was skeptical the Conservatives would achieve that this time, given voters’ deep fatigue with the party and differences between Sunak and John Major, the prime minister in 1992.

Frank Luntz, an American political strategist who has lived and worked in Britain, said 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 completely different world than 2016,” Luntz said. “But the only thing both sides of the Atlantic have in common is a feeling that can be summed up in one word: enough.”

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