Rishi Sunak’s nightmare first week on the campaign trail

Rishi Sunak campaign trail

Source: AAP/Getty

Rishi Sunak wasn’t the Conservative Party’s first – or even second – choice for the prime ministership, having taken over following Boris Johnson’s resignation over throwing lockdown parties and Liz Truss’s dismal 44-day tenure at 10 Downing Street.

Despite trailing in the polls to Labour, Sunak’s decision to call a surprise election for July 4 has been followed by a series of mishaps across his first week of campaigning.

The struggling prime minister is now soaking in the possibility of the Conservative Party crashing out of government after 14 years of leading Britain and another bruising month on the campaign trail.

Week from hell

From the moment Sunak announced the election, soaking wet and without an umbrella on May 22, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be an easy campaign.

Labour supporters were out in numbers at the announcement, blasting Things Can Only Get Better over a speaker, as a rattled Sunak was barely able to speak over the rain and 1990s pop anthem.

On the first day of the campaign, Sunak visited a warehouse in Derbyshire, where he answered questions from hi-vis-wearing workers.

It quickly became apparent that the questions – and the workers – were plants, with the people asking them if they were actually local Conservative Party councillors.

Sunak followed with a trip to Wales, where the Conservatives hold eight out of 40 seats, and quickly blundered his way into asking staff at a brewery if they were looking forward to the UEFA Euro 2024 championship in June.

“So are you looking forward to the football, to get people in?” Sunak said.

“There’ll be people coming in. It will be a big summer of sport.”

The only issue for Sunak is that Wales didn’t qualify, and a staff member quickly told him that it will only be “if you support England”.

National service

The Conservative Party also announced a flagship policy: If it returns to government, 18-year-olds must complete a year-long military placement or volunteer one weekend a month doing community service.

Sunak said that British young people have not had the opportunities or experience they deserve.

“There are forces trying to divide our society in this increasingly uncertain world,” he said.

“I will bring in a new model of national service to create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country.”

Political enemies and bemused people online quickly panned the idea, with the Tories having overseen the British army shrinking in size from more than 100,000 soldiers in 2010 to 73,000 at the start of 2024, according to BBC.

Another campaign stop, this time at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, where Sunak was fighting away questions about whether he was at the helm of another sinking ship.

His main rival for the prime ministership, Labour’s Keir Starmer, will be laughing all the way to the polls, as all he needs to do is hold onto voters that the Labour Party have already won over.

One in 10 Conservative Party voters has died since 2019, making the electoral math and the path to victory for Sunak increasingly difficult to envision.

Sunak has reportedly made the decision to take off the first Saturday of the campaign to meet his political advisers and closest allies, as he attempts to steady the ship before another 38 days of potential blunders.

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