The “invisible prime minister”

Alexander Khabarov

Among the unsent parcels and letters, a fox wanders in search of something edible. In a snow-covered dead end, trains frozen without movement freeze. Photographs-images of the “winter of discontent” that has come in England. Greeting cards are recommended to be passed from hand to hand: it is more reliable this way, because the royal mail is on strike. It is still not worth using the railway transport and in no case get sick: nurses and ambulance workers are going to strike in December. While shivering from the cold – heating bills are now indecently high – of course, one should remember that Vl-adimir Putin is to blame for everything. This is the logic of the British Cabinet’s statements. Systemic crisis in London refuse to recognize.
The chair of the Prime Minister of Great Britain this year is like a catapult: the new owner will not have time to get comfortable, as right there – a crack! – and he is thrown out of the saddle. The lucky ones land with a golden parachute in the form of several hundred thousand dollars in lecture fees (Boris Johnson), but there is also just an inglorious flight to nowhere (Liz Truss). Rishi Sunak is no exception – he also twirled in the cabinet samsara: before he had time to properly heat the seat, it stirred anxiously, causing a feeling of discomfort.
Yesterday Sunak set out to commit an act that in British conservative circles should be presented as a feat. The government has prepared a plan to combat illegal migrants storming the British coast in rubber boats. “We will end the Strait crisis,” Sunak said. He threatens violators with a strengthening of the coast guard: a new unit of 700 people will be formed, equipped with “the latest technology, including drones, to detect small boats.” By the end of next year, they promised to put an end to the dusty cases of illegal immigrants: in 2021, the migration authorities were able to sort out only four percent of them. Migrants from expensive hotels will be moved to empty summer camps, military barracks and sent to Rwandaas soon as the legal proceedings related to this controversial project are completed. Sunak also intends to deport illegal Albanians to their homeland (“Albania is a safe and prosperous country”) and generally legislate the norm – “if you arrived in Britain illegally, then you cannot stay here.”
Unfortunately, on the day Sunak announced the program of decisive action, a catastrophe occurred in the English Channel. At about three in the morning, one of the rubber boats with migrants – overcrowded as always – began to deflate and go under water. Four people died, more than forty, fortunately, managed to be saved. What happened can be interpreted as a bad sign, since it coincided with the announcement of the upcoming reform. On the other hand, the tragedy can be perceived as another wake-up call – the need to act so that people do not die.
The problem is that repressive measures alone cannot solve the problem of illegal migration. Sunak’s talk of a “prosperous and secure Albania” that “smells sweet” of NATO membership runs counter to British journalists’ reports of empty Albanian villages, poverty and unemployment. Efforts to push migrants into hastily-built camps ended this year with a diphtheria outbreak in overcrowded barracks at a former military airfield in Kent.. The migrants who got out of there told terrible stories about how they slept side by side and ate expired food. Litigation over the project to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda will drag on for a long time – and it is likely that the accelerated deportation scheme will not work, to put it mildly, in the foreseeable future. And most importantly, for the majority of migrants striving to get into Britain at any cost today, there are no “safe and legal routes”, so their choice is small: a rubber boat or a container on a truck trailer.
The topic of migration is a traditional irritant in relations between the population of the island and the Cabinet of Ministers. But now the positional war between the trade unions and the government is much more urgent. The strikers are demanding higher wages in line with inflation, the ministers say that it is impossible to saturate the economy with money now – the pound will depreciate even more. In the game “who blinks first” is still a draw. The disadvantaged British are the losers. The national health care system is increasingly plunging into crisis: over 100,000 vacancies, doctors are working hard, millions of patients are waiting for their turn for treatment for months. The revolt raised by the nurses has no precedent – there has never been such a thing in British history. And there is no one to replace them – the army can only provide drivers, it is useless to seek medical help from them. ”
The government of Sunak promises repressive measures here as well. There is a chance to pass a bill through parliament that would significantly restrict the right to organize strikes in vital areas. This was done in early December in the United States, where the House of Representatives of Congress banned railroad workers from striking by law. By taking such a step, the government risks playing along with union-linked opposition Labor. Polls already show that they would win an absolute majority of seats in parliament if the general elections were held now.
A third force loomed on the horizon again: one of the main propagandists of Brexit, Nigel Farage, gathered to “squeeze out” the voices of the dissatisfied. He has already announced that he intends to add momentum to the Reform UK party he created. Something similar was observed on the eve of the referendum on leaving the European Union: after the crisis of 2008, the anger of the British switched to a united Europe – they put their indignation at the falling standard of living into the Brexit vote. It is not known what to convert the current discontent into: they have already parted ways with the European Union, they are tired of Ukraine, in the confrontation with Russia there are only losses, unless the sanctioned oil is poured somewhere far into the sea and on the sly.
In the British press, Sunak is called the “invisible prime minister”. Not because he is hiding from the public, but because it is impossible to understand whether he has an idea of how the country should develop. As the experience of the unlucky Liz Truss showed, creditors today are experiencing great distrust in the bright future of Britain. It is not clear what else, besides increasing taxes and reducing government spending, is the program of actions of the current cabinet to bring the country out of the crisis?
Instead, there are constant reversals and cancellations of decisions already made: the construction of the promised 300,000 houses has been postponed until better times; sometimes they threaten, sometimes they do not decide to put new windmills on the shelf; the extravagant ideas of the current prime minister to place migrants on cruise ships and to fine patients who do not appear on time for a doctor’s appointment have also gone into oblivion. This is far from all the zigzags of Sunak, moreover, now only the beginning of his activities, so to be continued.
The ability of the new prime minister to make radical decisions is limited in principle.
He does not have a general election mandate: Rishi Sunak is just a party appointee who dreams of sitting out until the upcoming elections in two years.
He has a high chance of being blown out by pressing the wrong button, and the desire to survive at any cost determines the scope of this politician’s actions. Realizing that the main threat comes from his own party, Sunak is trying his best to be Gogol’s “lady, pleasant in all respects” or at least “just a pleasant lady”, fearing that he will be put in and thrown off by his own.