UK PM Rishi Sunak Apologizes After Stunning Election Defeat 

Rishi Sunak was all apologies after a shocking defeat at the polls this week that saw the prime minister’s Conservative Party be voted out of power for the first time in 14 years.

In his place will be the Labour Party, a center-left party that ran on a platform that called for major change. 

While the results of the snap election — which Sunak himself had called last month — are going to bring about big change in the UK, they weren’t altogether unexpected. That’s because public support for the party, which also is known as the Tories, eroded significantly in recent years due to rising inflation, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the infamous Brexit.

The Press Association reported that, with nearly all votes counted on Friday, the Labour Party was expected to capture 412 in the UK’s House of Commons. Conservatives look to win 120 seats, with Liberal Democrats winning 71.

The election that happened this week is the first national election since back in 2019. Opinion polls in the country showed for more than two years now that Conservatives were in for a “heavy defeat,” according to University of Westminster professor of history and politics Pippa Catterrall. 

As she explained to ABC News, though:

“The Conservatives nonetheless went into the election with the hope that, as usual, the polls would narrow in their favor. Instead, it got worse.”

Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, is expected to become the UK’s new prime minister, replacing Sunak, who has been serving in that role since 2022. In recent comments, Starmer said he was hoping to put an end to the “chaos” created by the Conservatives.

In the campaign, Starmer put out a “manifesto” that laid out some of the plans of his government, which include ushering in an economy that’s much greener, improving trade deals with the European Union and cutting down on wait times at hospitals.

Dr. David Moon, who works at the University of Bath as a senior lecturer in politics, commented to ABC News recently:

“From Ukraine to Gaza, Labour’s foreign and defense policy essentially mirrors the current government’s. Starmer’s Brexit plan lacks specifics beyond promising to negotiate a ‘better deal.’”

It’s not surprising, he added, that the Labour Party focused its campaign on the failures of the Conservatives rather than on laying out specific plans for what they would do in control. As Moon explained:

“A Starmer victory seems more the product of a media backlash against the Conservatives following the scandal-plagued Johnson and Truss years rather than excitement about policy proposals, with Labour now seen across newsrooms as a safe alternative following Starmer’s shifting of the party to the right.”

The leadership the Tories displayed during what was a messy Brexit is only one reason why voters likely went in a different direction. COVID restrictions were rolled out in a messy way by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2020.

Those who followed in his footsteps helped improve the economy somewhat, but voters are still unhappy with how things stand now.