UK General Election: Key Contenders for Parliament

July 3, 2024 by No Comments

On Thursday, millions of Britons will head to the polls to elect a new House of Commons and government.

Voters will select 650 lawmakers representing the same number of constituencies, or local areas. The leader of the party with the most lawmakers will become prime minister.

After 14 years in power under five prime ministers, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party is widely predicted to lose to the main opposition party, Labour, which leans left-of-center.

The Conservatives and Labour have traditionally dominated British politics under the UK’s “first past the post” electoral system, making it hard for smaller parties to win representation in Parliament.

However, other parties are also in the race, including the Liberal Democrats, Reform UK, the Scottish National Party, and the Greens.

Here’s a look at the parties, their leaders, and their promises:


Sunak, 44, assumed power in October 2022, inheriting a Conservative Party and a struggling economy following Liz Truss’s brief premiership. The Oxford graduate and former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager is Britain’s first leader of color and the first Hindu to become prime minister. Sunak has emphasized his role in stabilizing the country, but critics argue he lacks political judgment and is out of touch with ordinary voters.


Strengthening the economy, reducing taxes by approximately 17 billion pounds annually. Increasing public health spending above inflation and boosting defense spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2030. The party claims these measures will be funded through savings on tax evasion and cuts to welfare spending. The party also promises to cap immigration numbers and deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Keir Starmer.

The 61-year-old lawyer, a former chief prosecutor for England and Wales, is the current favorite to lead Britain. A centrist and pragmatist, Starmer has worked diligently to steer his party away from the more overtly socialist policies of former leader Jeremy Corbyn and resolve internal divisions. Critics call him uninspiring and lacking ambition, but Labour’s popularity has surged under his leadership.


Promoting “wealth creation,” encouraging investment, and improving Britain’s infrastructure, such as railways, under a 10-year infrastructure strategy. Establishing a state-owned clean power company to enhance energy security, funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants. Taxing private schools to finance thousands of new teachers in state schools. Reducing record-high public health waiting times.

Ed Davey.

Davey, 58, was first elected to Parliament in 1997. The former economics researcher served as the government’s energy and climate change secretary under a precarious Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition from 2012 to 2015. Davey became leader of the left-leaning Lib Dems in 2019 and was relatively unknown until this election, when he gained headlines for his numerous eccentric stunts, including bungee-jumping to urge voters to take “a leap of faith.”


Improving Britain’s overstretched health and social care systems, including introducing free nursing care at home. Investing in renewable energy and home insulation. Cracking down on water companies that dump sewage. Lowering the voting age to 16. Rejoining the European Union’s single market.

Nigel Farage.

Farage, a political firebrand who takes pride in being a disruptor in British politics, has caused significant trouble for the Conservatives since announcing his candidacy. The 60-year-old populist has long divided opinion with his anti-migrant rhetoric and Euroskeptic stance. A key proponent of Brexit, Farage is making promises to cut immigration and focus on “British values.” Farage has run for Parliament seven times previously but never won.

None — though the party gained its first lawmaker this year when ex-Conservative Party deputy chair Lee Anderson defected to Reform.

Freezing all “nonessential immigration” and prohibiting international students from bringing their dependents. Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights to enable the deportation of asylum seekers without intervention from rights courts. Eliminating “net zero” goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to lower energy bills.

John Swinney.

Swinney, 60, became the SNP’s third leader in just over a year in May. The politician has sought to stabilize the party, which has been in turmoil since Scotland’s long-serving First Minister Nicola Sturgeon abruptly resigned last year during a campaign finance investigation that eventually led to criminal charges against her husband. Swinney has long served the party: he joined its ranks at 15 years old and previously led the party from 2000 to 2004.


Swinney has stated that if his party wins a majority of seats in Scotland, he will attempt to open Scottish independence negotiations with the London-based UK government. He wants to rejoin the European Union and the European single market. He also advocated for increased public health funding, dismantling the UK’s Scotland-based nuclear deterrent, and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay.

Denyer, a mechanical engineer, worked in wind energy before joining the Greens in 2011. The 38-year-old served as a local politician for the southwestern English city of Bristol for nine years. In 2021, she was elected co-leader of the Greens alongside Ramsay, also a local government politician with experience working with environmental charities.


Phasing out nuclear power and achieving net zero for the UK by 2040. The Greens have pledged 24 billion pounds annually to insulate homes and 40 billion pounds annually invested in the green economy, to be funded by a carbon tax, a new wealth tax on the very wealthy, and an income tax increase for millions of higher earners.