Will 2023 be a year of relative calm before an inevitable storm blows the Conservatives away in 2024? Or will the next 12 months see Rishi Sunak chip away at Labour’s opinion poll lead, making the next general election a much closer contest than many expect?
As the parties begin to define the battle lines for a 2024 contest, both scenarios are possible. But for the Tories to recover, Sunak will have to become a different prime minister to the one who necessarily steadied the ship after the turbulence of Liz Truss’ disastrous, mayfly premiership.
Many Tory MPs, while welcoming the stability Sunak has brought, insist that it is not enough. Some suspect the PM’s real mission is to “manage decline” and prevent a 1997-style landslide defeat that would potentially give Labour two five-year terms in power.
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