What Kevin McCarthy and Rishi Sunak Have in Common: Unmanageable Parties

By John Mercury December 9, 2023

On Wednesday evening, a hard-line Conservative minister, Robert Jenrick, resigned from the British government to protest its new immigration policy. Hours later, in Washington, Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican toppled by his right-wing colleagues as House speaker in October, announced he would resign from Congress.

A pair of bitter political exits, on opposite sides of the Atlantic, that drove home again how Britain and the United States have been lashed together in the populist storms unleashed by Brexit and Donald J. Trump. The two major right-of-center parties, Conservatives and Republicans, have become almost mirror images: Deeply divided, radicalized, and close to unmanageable for their embattled leaders.

There are differences, of course: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak clings to power as the Tory leader, partly because lawmakers cannot stomach the idea of throwing out another prime minister after Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.

Republicans, by contrast, appear firmly in thrall to Mr. Trump, the front-runner for the G.O.P. presidential nomination whom many in the party view as the best bet for recapturing the White House next year. And the vitriolic nature of the debate on Capitol Hill still makes the proceedings in the House of Commons look comparatively civil.


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