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Who’s who in the UK general election?

The United Kingdom will go to the polls on July 4 in a highly anticipated general election called on Wednesday by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

These are the main actors in the vote at the national level.

– Rishi Sunak –

Sunak, 44, is seeking his own mandate from the British public after being installed as Conservative leader, and therefore prime minister, by his own MPs in October 2022.

He succeeded Liz Truss, who was ousted after just 49 days in power after her tax-cutting economic agenda spooked markets and caused her to lose her party’s support.

Sunak, of Indian descent, became the United Kingdom’s first Asian and Hindu prime minister when he was elected unopposed by his fellow Conservative MPs.

The former financier is credited with stabilizing the government after the chaos of Prime Ministers Truss and Boris Johnson and halving inflation.

However, he has failed to deliver on several promises, including reducing healthcare waiting lists, ending irregular immigration and sending migrants to Rwanda.

Opinion polls regularly give him some of the lowest approval ratings of any prime minister.

– Keir Starmer –

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, is a former human rights lawyer and chief prosecutor who polls suggest would win the election and become prime minister.

Starmer, 61, is credited with bringing his party back to the center and eradicating antisemitism since he succeeded left-wing Jeremy Corbyn as leader in April 2020.

His supporters see him as a pragmatic and safe pair of hands, ideally suited to lead Britain out of economic decline.

Critics accuse him of being a boring flip-flop who has failed to express a clear vision for the country.

Starmer was born in London to a toolmaker father and a nurse mother. Her unusual name was her socialist parents’ homage to the founding father of the Labor Party: Keir Hardie.

The keen footballer and Arsenal fan was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to criminal justice, but rarely uses the prefix ‘Sir’ before his name.

– Nigel Farage –

He has never been an MP and is yet to confirm whether he is running to be one, but arch-Eurosceptic Nigel Farage will influence the election, whether as a parliamentary candidate or a TV news presenter.

The beer-loving, cigarette-smoking, 60-year-old former member of the European Parliament is one of the most divisive personalities in UK politics.

He earned the nickname “Mr Brexit” from former US President Donald Trump after helping persuade a majority of Britons in 2016 to vote to leave the European Union.

For months he has been hinting at a run for office, likely for the right-wing populist party Reform UK which he co-founded in 2018 and of which he currently serves as honorary president.

The reform has obtained around 10 percent of the vote in recent months, which if replicated in the vote could deprive the conservatives of several key seats needed to win re-election.

However, Farage is a perennial loser in Westminster, having failed to be elected in seven attempts and may feel he has more influence as a high-profile presenter on the right-wing channel GB News.

– Swinney, Davey and Denyer –

Neither Ed Davey’s Liberal Democrats nor John Swinney’s Scottish National Party (SNP) will win the election, but they could have a say in who does.

Davey, 58, hopes his party can prevent a Conservative victory by winning several seats in southern England, aiming to overtake the SNP and regain its position as the third-largest party in parliament.

Swinney, 60, is not a member of the UK Parliament, but is first minister of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, having taken over the leadership of the SNP in May following the resignation of Humza Yousaf.

His SNP is struggling to fend off a resurgence of the Labor Party in Scotland, which could dash its independence hopes for a generation.

Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer, 38, hopes to win the new Bristol Central seat as the fringe group aims to increase its representation from one to four MPs.

AFP

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