United Kingdom: Economic and Political Overview

United Kingdom flag United Kingdom: Economic and Political Overview

Economic and Political Overview

Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
King: Charles III (since 8 September 2022). Predecessor: Queen Elizabeth II.
Prime Minister: Rishi Sunak (since 25 October 2022), Conservative Party.
Next Election Dates
General elections (House of Commons): May 2, 2024 (at the latest).
Current Political Context
Tory Premier Boris Johnson can count on a strong majority in the Parliament; however, several open issues remain: the UK’s dispute with the EU and Ireland regarding the special status of Northern Ireland, diplomatic disputes with France over migration and fishing rights (as well as the AUKUS affair), and other Brexit-related problems remain challenges for Johnson’s government. Domestically, Johnson faces opposition from within the Conservative Party over the government’s COVID-19 strategy, diminishing electoral support overall, and deteriorating personal approval ratings.
Meanwhile, the UK worked on strengthening its commercial relations, signing around 70 rollover agreements (to ensure continuity to the deals previously covered by the EU), as well as an important trade deal with Japan, the first that differs from an existing EU deal. An FTA with the USA is also being negotiated.
Main Political Parties
The three dominant parties:
- Labour Party: left-wing socialist and social democratic, grew out of trade union movement in the 19th century;
- Conservative Party: centre-right; believes in free-market economy, strong military and traditional cultural values;
- Liberal Democrats: centrist, moderate pro-European, opposed the Iraq war and strong on civil rights.
Other parties exist, such as:
- The Scottish National Party (SNP): centre-left;
- The UK Independence Party (UKIP): Eurosceptic, right-wing populist;
- The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW - Greens): environmentalist
- The Democratic Unionist Party: right-wing;
- The Reform UK (Brexit Party): Eurosceptic
Executive Power
The Queen is the head of state. But above all she plays a symbolic and representational role. She continues to exercise three essential rights: the right to be consulted, to advise and to warn. Following legislative elections to the lower house of parliament, the leader of the majority party or coalition is usually appointed Prime Minister by the Queen to serve a five-year term. The Prime Minister is the head of government and has all executive powers, which include law enforcement and the conduct of the day-to-day affairs of the country. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the Prime Minister.
Legislative Power
The United Kingdom has a bicameral legislative system. The parliament is made up of: the House of Lords (the upper house), whose members are appointed for life by the Queen on the proposal of the Prime Minister (the number of members varies, currently at 673), 88 hereditary peers and 26 members of the clergy. The House of Commons (lower house) has 650 seats, and its members are elected by universal suffrage, for a 5-year term. The government is directly responsible to and dependent on parliament.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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Latest Update: January 2023

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