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22:15
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21.04.2024
How big will be the Labour party's victory in the UK 2024 general election?
Dawn breaks behind the Houses of Parliament and the statue of Winston Churchill in Westminster
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The opposition Labour party is currently around 20 points ahead of the ruling Conservative party in UK opinion polls. That is not expected to change in 2024. People are fed up. Most want the current Conservative government out. But a desire to get rid of the Conservative government does not translate into enthusiasm for the new Labour government that would replace it. In this election, most people in the UK will vote against the Conservatives rather than for anyone else.

The Labour party has approached the election with extreme caution. It has not promised to spend more money to improve dilapidated public services and has pared back its plans for a ‘green new deal’ to bringjob-creating investment in renewable energy. Such economic orthodoxy reassures bankers and financiers but brings little hope to people struggling with a cost-of-living crisis, or those having to wait more than a year for an operation in a crowded hospital. Instead, it makes people wonder if a Labour government would be any different than a new Conservative one. At least with a Conservative government people would know what to expect.

But the Conservative party is so unpopular that it faces opposition everywhere. In urban and working-class areas, the Conservatives could lose votes to Labour on the left and,on the right,to Reform UK (the old Brexit partythat supported the UK’s departure from the European Union). In its traditionally strong rural areas, the Conservatives could also lose votes to the Liberal Democrat party. After 13 years in power, things do not look good for the blue team.

Prediction: A Labour government will be elected, winning 340 to 350 of the 650 seats in the UK’s House of Commons.

How will the UK economy perform in 2024?

Forecasts for the UK economy for 2024 are not good. Living standardshave seen their biggest fall since the 1950s and are not expected to return to their 2019 pre-pandemic levels until 2027-28. House prices, a key measure of wealth for many in the UK, are also expected to fall by 4% to 6 % in 2024. Brexit is estimated to cost the UK economy€115bn a year, reducing growth and tax revenue. People in the UK will be, and will feel, poorer. At 0.7%, the UK growth rate is less than the 0.9% forecast for the Euro area.

But some possible bright spots may improve the UK’s economic performance. A new Labour government may bring greater confidence and stability for consumers and investors, especially as the cost of borrowing is likely to fall. Meanwhile, the Euro area’s biggest economy, Germany, faces major difficulties. A ruling by the German constitutional court in November 2023, requires the German government to cut public expenditure. The German economy is forecast to grow only by 0.3% in 2024 and this will weigh down growth in the Euro area.

Prediction: Despite Brexit, the UK economy will outperform the Euro area in 2024.

Will it become harder for those from other countries to live, study and work in the UK?

According to the latest estimates, net immigration to the UK for the year ending June 2023 was around 672,000 people – a sizeable city. For comparison, Thessaloniki’s metro area population is 815,000. Brexit was supposed to reduce immigration to the UK. It hasn’t. Net immigration in 2015, the year before the Brexit referendum was 330,000.

The UK needs immigration for economic and humanitarian reasons. In the year to September 2023, the UK gave work visas to around 335,000 people, who brought with them around 250,000 dependents, many of whom will also work. More than 80,000 others came to the UK for family reasons, mostly reuniting UK nationals with their foreign-born wives and children. Over the same period, some 485,000 people also came from overseas to the UK to study. Coming to the UK is expensive. A work visa costs between €570 and €1,700, a family visa €2,125 and a student visa €570. Everyone on a visa for more than six months must also pay the immigration health charge, ranging from €540 to €720 a year. In addition, students must pay tuition fees currently ranging between €15,000 and €30,000 a year for undergraduate courses.

Despite the need for, and benefits of, immigration, the UK’s Conservative government has tried to use it as a divisive, culture war issue in a cynical attempt to increase its popularity ahead of the next election. The UK government has focussed attention on asylum-seekers, particularly the 29,000 entering the UK illegally from France who make the dangerous sea crossing in small boats. The government wants to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda while their asylum claims are being processed. The UK Supreme Court has said the plan is unlawful, but the government is trying to pass new legislation to bypass the court’s objections.

The government is also making legal immigration more difficult and expensive. From January 2024, the immigration health surcharge will increase to €1,200 a year and the cost of visas is expected to rise. Further, under current rules, family visas are only given to couples earning at least £18,600, more if they have children. This threshold will rise to €33,500 in spring, again more if the couple has children.Despite the need for immigration, a new Labour government is unlikely to make it any easier to enter the UK as it does not want to be accused by the right-wing press of opening the UK’s borders.

Prediction: Yes, unfortunately, it will become more difficult and more expensive for non-UK nationals to move to the UK. I will stay in Greece.

Will 2024 be the beginning of the end for the English Premier League?

In December 2023, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that FIFA and UEFA could not stop the formation of a European Super League (ESL). The ECJ said that FIFA and UEFA had ‘abused’ their position by threatening the 12 clubs that planned to join the ESL, in April 2021,with sanctions and exclusion from the Champions League and other competitions. FIFA and UEFA, who can appeal the decision, said that the ECJ’s ruling changes nothing. But it may have changed everything.

Plans to form an ESL, based on six elite football clubs from England and three from Italy and Spain, collapsed in 2021. Following outrage from UEFA, national football associations and football fans (this Liverpool one included) most of the12 clubs were forced to withdraw .But the ESL never went away.

A22 Sports Management, a company helping create the ESL, was a plaintiff in the ECJ case against FIFA and UEFA. A22 has announced proposals for a three-tier ESL comprising 64 clubs with promotion and relegation. The question is who would join it.  UEFA currently has the most prestigious football club competitions in Europe. But A22 is owned by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus. Any decisions to join an ESL would be about money and control, not football. Loyalty is not an issue. Remember, six of its biggest and successful clubs were ready to abandon the English Premier League almost immediately: Only the threat of FIFA and UEFA sanctions (which no longer applies) and fan pressure (which can be manipulated) changed their minds. Football is big business and club owners will always be inclined to follow the money.

Prediction: 2024 will see plans to launch an ESL in 2025, or 2026.

Who will win the Euro2024?

England, Scotland and possibly Wales are the UK teams competing in the men’s football Euros 2024. France is probably the best team in Europe and Germany are at home. Spain and Portugal will be hard to beat but England have a chance.

Prediction: France will win the Euro2024. England will lose in the semi-finals… on penalties.

Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends a 2024 presidential election campaign event in Summerville, South Carolina, U.S. September 25, 2023. REUTERS/Sam Wolfe/File Photo

… and oh! Who will win the US presidential election in 2024?

Prediction: Donald Trump will not be elected US president in 2024. I base this on the fact that Trump has already been president and, as Winston Churchill, whose mother was American, said, ‘You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities’.

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