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Roving Periscope: Anxious for the July 4 vote outcome, PM Sunak buys bf for scribes, and mingles with robots!

Roving Periscope: Anxious for the July 4 vote outcome, PM Sunak buys bf for scribes, and mingles with robots!

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: When he called for mid-term polls in May, the United Kingdom’s India-born Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may not have bargained for a loss of power at the hands of a revivified Labour Party. Now, as the UK goes to the polls on July 4, he is toiling to keep his chair in the House of Commons, despite indications that his party may lose heavily.

In May, he made a sudden snap election announcement taking many in his Conservative Party by surprise. However, many, including Keir Starmer, the Labour Party’s Prime Ministerial hopeful and the current Leader of the Opposition, were happy that Sunak could become an ex-PM six months ahead of the deadline in January 2025.

A drop in inflation rates may have prompted Sunak to announce the snap poll, about which he took no one in confidence.

According to the media reports, now is running from pillar to post. And, he is hunting for votes ‘even among robots’ at an unearthly hour of 4.50 AM. Not just this, he was even seen buying breakfast for the journalists chasing him on campaign trails.

Before launching his campaign, PM Sunak visited a Hindu temple in London to buttress his Hindu credentials, only to find his Labour rival Keir Starmer also following him.

But Sunak is badly lagging in the race to win the United Kingdom’s election. As part of this poll campaign, he went ‘hunting for votes’ among whirling robots in a retain distribution center on Tuesday, kicking off his first election stop of the day before 5 AM (0400 GMT), the reports said.

With his whirlwind election campaign crisscrossing the country in the last six weeks, Sunak now looks exhausted. On Tuesday, he visited a vast Ocado warehouse in Luton, north of London, watching robots pick items for delivery, the media reported.

Then he tried to mingle with the staff, donning a neon yellow, high-visibility jacket to help them pick the stuff for deliveries at Ocado, which is among Britain’s most successful technology businesses. He also met with staff over a cup of tea.

On his campaign trail, PM Sunak surprised the common people at a motorway service station. He joined a queue in a McDonald’s outlet to buy breakfast for journalists following him closely on his campaign.

In May, his campaign got off to an ‘inauspicious’ start when he announced the election date under a downpour in Downing Street, competing to be heard over Labour supporters blaring a pop song associated with their party’s crushing 1997 election victory.

PM Sunak, a former investment banker, has since traveled across the length and breadth of the country, giving speeches and attending several hustings a day.

Despite his efforts, however, the polls have hardly budged, with Keir Starmer’s opposition Labour Party holding an around 20-point lead and many voters saying they want to change their Conservative government which has accumulated 14 years of anti-incumbency.

But a confident Sunak claimed that developments showed that his government’s plans and priorities were working.

Two months ago, in a video posted on X, Sunak said, “I’ve just come back in from calling the general election, and I wanted to explain to you why our economy is now growing faster than France, Germany, and the United States. And this morning, we received the welcome news that inflation has returned to normal.”

“Now, this is a sign that our plan and our priorities are working. Now, I know it hasn’t always been easy, and I know you’re only just starting to feel the benefits. “But this hard-won economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning. And that’s why I’ve called the election so that we can decide whether we want to build on the progress that we’ve made or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty.

“Now, I believe that our plan and the bold actions that we’re prepared to take will deliver a secure future for you, your family and our United Kingdom,” the British PM added.

“This is why I’ve just called the election.”

“You must choose in this election who has that plan and who is prepared to take that bold action to secure a better future for our country and our children,” he added.

The decision for a mid-term poll was followed by a six-week campaign widely expected to end in the fall of Sunak’s Conservative government. The Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, is soaring in opinion polls and has sought to present itself as a reformed and moderate group ready for power.


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