Key Political ISSUES - UK

Line graph called 'The economy remains a major concern for Brits.' The graph shows the various different issues that matter to voters including health, immigration, and environment
Statista | CC BY-ND 4.0

➡️ Key Political Issues in the UK

The United Kingdom is currently struggling with several significant political issues both at home and internationally. With the general election looming on July 4th, the main British political parties have struggled to impress frustrated citizens who have endured the poor leadership of five prime ministers in six years.

The country is still grappling with aftermath of Brexit, and continues to suffer under crippling austerity measures put in place by the Conservative party.

Better World Info provides over 8,000 resources on the most important issues that matter to you, as well as an insightful guide to human rights in the UK, a guide to British politics in general, and a comprehensive resource on the 2024 general election.


Demonstrators of all ages proceeded from the Bank of London to Parliament Square, paralyzing traffic in the UK capital. Protesters hold signs demanding an end to austerity
Flickr | Michael Candelori


Find in-depth guides to economic inequality, budget cuts and austerity programmes, unemployment and living standards, the scale of tax dodging, banking scandals and financial crises, calls to tax the rich, and the ongoing housing crisis.

  • In 2020, the ONS calculated that the richest 1% of British households hold 70% of all wealth.

  • More than a decade of austerity by Conservative-led governments have resulted in £500 billion of lost public spending and a weaker economy.

  • In the tax year 2020/21 is it estimated that £1.2 billion was lost to tax evasion.

  • At current rates, nearly five million households will live in unaffordable homes by 2030.


"I love the NHS so much, I want to cut it up into little pieces and give it to all my friends" - David Cameron
Flickr | Dunk 🐝


Healthcare in the UK has been facing a number of serious challenges for the last decade. Funding and management has been under major criticism since 2010, coupled with 14 years of Conservative leadership, underfunding, and the effects of the covid-19 pandemic - the once idolised NHS is facing its worst ever crisis.

  • The waiting list for hospital treatment rose to a record 7.8 million in 2023. Median waiting times stand at 14.5 weeks.

  • The NHS is being crippled by staff shortages caused by burnout, lack of work–life balance, and low pay. There are currently 121,000 full-time vacancies, and only 26% of staff members state there are enough staff in their facilities.

  • The unprecedented 2022 nurses strike saw thousands of nurses take to the streets demanding increased pay and better working conditions.

  • Private companies have become more heavily involved in providing health services in the UK over recent years. New initiatives could result in the NHS spending up to £2.5 billion per year with private health companies.


The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a press conference on migration in Downing Street, he stands behind a podium which says 'Stop the Boats' with two Union Jack flags on either side
Flickr | Number 10


The population of the UK is now larger and more diverse than it has ever been. Since 1994 it has become a country of net immigration. As numbers increased, public sentiment towards immigration has soured, driven in part by sensationalised headlines in the UK mass media.

Human rights organisations have expressed concerns regarding the controversial Illegal Migration Act introduced in 2023. The act means that those who arrive in the UK illegally will be detained and then promptly removed. It has been branded as inhumane and fails the countries obligation under international law to provide safe refuge for refugees.

  • There were 67,337 asylum applications in the UK in 2023, a 17% decrease from the previous 12 months.

  • The Rwanda Bill, now officially adopted, has been publicly denounced by both the Council of Europe and the United Nations for shifting the responsibility of refugee protection, undermining international cooperation, and setting a worrying global precedent.

  • Promises made during Brexit campaigning to bring net migration to under 100,000 a year were never met. In fact, net immigration hovered around 200,000 pre-Brexit, and has since reached an all-time high of 745,000 in 2022.


Housing Is A Human Right grafitti - A man paints large black graffiti on a yellow wooden fence
Ponderosa Templeton | CC BY-SA 4.0


The UK supply of housing has not been keeping up with demand for a number of years. This is disproportionately affects low-income households, but access to any type of housing has become increasingly difficult. High property prices, spiralling rent, greedy landlords, inflation, and slow rates of new builds have all contributed to the crisis of housing affordability.

  • The number of social rented homes in England fell by 120,000 between 2012-2016, taking the total number to below 4 million.

  • In 2012, the average house price in England was £180,000, this price has now risen by 76%.

  • Private renters spend around 42% of their income on rent, this figure rises to 72% in London.


Boris Johnson at the launch of COP26. The British PM at the time stands behind a podium with his fist in the air. A huge blue COP 26 banner is behind him
Flickr | Number 10


Despite numerous pledges over the years the UK had never emerged as a leader in climate policy. Backing for new oil and gas projects such as Rosebank oilfield, proposals for airport expansions, slow progress on heat pumps and electrification, and a series of U-turns on net-zero commitments have left the UK unlikely to meet its carbon reduction targets.

  • At COP26, Boris Johnson vowed to cut emissions by 68% on 1990 levels by 2030. The figure stubbornly remains at 46% which is largely due to a huge reduction in the use of coal. However, in 2022, the government approved the development of the UK’s first new deep coal mine for 30 years.

  • In the past, the UK was a leader in climate policy. In 2008, they became the first country in the world to create a legally-binding national commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Change Act pledged to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, from 1990 levels.

  • The UK is one of the world's greatest contributors to global warming over time due to its long history of burning fossil fuels which began during the Industrial Revolution.

  • The UK is seriously lagging behind other countries in its efforts to insulate homes, switch to renewable energy, and provide green transport options.


Two small flags sit side-by- side. One the left is the U.S. flag and on the right the Union Jack
Flickr | U.S. Department of Homeland Security


Since leaving Europe, international challenges for the UK have included forging new trade deals, improving their relations with Europe, the unfolding crises in Ukraine and Gaza, increasing tensions between the U.S. and China, pandemic preparedness, and international cooperation on climate change.

  • The UK is on a war-footing. They plan to raise their defence budget to £87 billion a year by 2030, amounting to 2.5% of gross domestic product.

  • Britain is set to expand its nuclear stockpile by over 40% to 260 warheads. In 2022, they spent £5.3 billion building and maintaining their nuclear forces.

  • The UK has pledged £12.5 billion in support to Ukraine since February 2022. This support comes in the form of lethal weaponry, including tanks, air defence systems, and long-range precision strike missiles.

  • Since 2008, the UK has licenced arms worth over £574 million to Israel, and is therefore complicit in war crimes committed against Palestinian civilians.

  • UK weapons have also played a central role in Saudi war on Yemen. The UK government admits that the Saudi-led coalition has used UK produced weapons representing billions of pounds of arms sales.

  • UK spending on peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution plummeted to £145 million in 2021 from £405 million in 2016. In this year, only 2% of UK overseas development assistance was spent on peacebuilding.

Better World Info’s guide to key political issues in the UK features many other topics including - education, surveillance, lobbying and political corruption, policing, transport, the Scottish independence movement, the Public Order Bill, and many other political scandals.

Author: Rachael Mellor, 29.06.24 licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0

For further reading on Key Political Issues in the UK see below ⬇️

Hot Topics

A poster campaigning against the approval for the drilling of Rosebank Oil Fields off the Northern coast of the UK. There is an image of an oil field and infront it says #StopRosebank. No new oil and gas for a liveable future.
Flickr | duncan cumming

Rosebank Oil Field – UK

80 miles north-west of Shetland lies of the largest undeveloped oil fields in UK waters. The approval to begin drilling has been met with outrage by environmental and climate campaigners who have protested throughout the country. The project has been labelled deeply irresponsible, it puts net zero climate targets out of reach, and as the oil will be sold overseas at world market prices it will do nothing to cut energy prices for UK consumers. This move comes just after the International Energy Agency confirms that no new oil and gas projects are needed if the world is to achieve its climate goals.

Rosebank Oil Field – UK
Many people march down the streets of London in protest of low pay for NHS workers.
Flickr | Steve Eason

NHS Winter 2022 Strikes

The cost-of-living crisis in the UK has exasperated the situation for already underpaid and undervalued NHS workers. 1,000s are now on strike in the first case ever of nationwide industrial action. British PM has refused to budge on his below inflation pay offers. A large back log of patients after the covid-19 pandemic has left many hospitals under enormous stress and workers desperate. Hailed as heroes after an incredibly difficult 2 years on the frontline, something has to change or we will witness the collapse of what was once declared the world's best healthcare system.

NHS Winter 2022 Strikes
White Uber taxi drives down a quiet street
Wikimedia | Ilya Plekhanov

Uber Files

Exposing a wealth of damning information about Ubers activities between the period 2013 – 2017, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and many others are sifting through more than 124,000 files exposing lobbying of top politicians to disrupt the European taxi industry. Emmanuel Macron in particular played a central role in the scandal. It has also been revealed that Ubers aggressive growth strategies put drivers at risk of violence – all in the name of profit. 

Uber Files
Kill the Bill

Kill the Bill - UK Police and Crime Bill

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was designed to overhaul policing in the UK. Introduced under PM Boris Johnson it has drawn wide criticism due to its stance on the public's right to protest, and is being seen as a power grab by the controversial PM. It gives police the power to criminalise protest activities, and calls into question the right to freedom of speech and expression. Protests against the bill have popularised the slogan ‘Kill the Bill’ to show their discontent with the reforms and the secretive amendments of this oppressive legislation.

Kill the Bill - UK Police and Crime Bill
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Elected as Conservative leader and appointed British Prime Minister in 2019 Johnson’s time as PM has been filled with controversy. Re-opening Brexit negotiations and then the drawn-out trade negotiations which have left many reeling. His slow response to the coronavirus pandemic has also been widely criticised. The resignation of Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain from Downing Street due to infighting within the cabinet has prompted more condemnation. Other issues have arisen within his LGBT advisory panel, donation scandals, Home Office bullying, the Downing Street refurb, and THAT Christmas party, opinion polls have shown majority support for his resignation.

Boris Johnson

Dismantling & Privatization of the NHS

Concern is rising regarding the new Health and Care bill which has just received its second reading in the House of Lords. The bill proposes to continue the dismantling the NHS, and the removal of the requirement to provide emergency health services to all. Greater privatisation will lead to a reduction in standards and reduced funding to NHS services. This bill makes it easier for private companies to take over NHS work as there are not controls over how contracts are let.

Dismantling & Privatization of the NHS
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