The U.K.’s “Funkapolitan” Conservative Party Struggles with the Effects of Brexit and the Pandemic


Photograph by Richard Pohle / Getty

The United Kingdom officially withdrew from the European Union on January 31, 2020. On that day, the first cases of COVID-19 were officially confirmed in Britain. Like every other country, the U.K. has had trouble containing the pandemic—the economic devastation, the implementation of lockdowns, the distribution of vaccines. But it has had another challenge, as it tries to redefine its place in the international diplomatic order and in the global economy. All of this has come at a time of deep division in the country’s politics: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of failing to address Brexit-related shortages of workers and supplies, and of mismanaging the government’s response to the pandemic. And the Labour Party, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, has failed to mount a popular or effective opposition. Sam Knight, a New Yorker staff writer, joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Brexit has affected conditions in the U.K., and the state of the Conservative and Labour Parties as the country faces a winter of food and fuel shortages.



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