Rishi Sunak announces 4 July general election

Rishi Sunak has called a surprise early election for 4 July in a contest that will see Keir Starmer try to take power for Labour after 14 years of Conservative-led government. The prime minister announced the election would be in the early summer, in a high-risk move for the Conservative party as it trails 20 points behind Labour in the polls.

Sunak finally decided to name the date after claiming inflation was back under control and the economy was improving, saying it was “the moment for Britain to choose its future”.

“I hope that my work since I became prime minister shows that we have a plan and are prepared to take bold action necessary for our country to flourish,” he said.Now I’ve stuck with that plan and always been honest with you about what is needed even when that’s been difficult.”

Sunak made his announcement in heavy rain outside No 10 Downing Street, almost drowned out by the New Labour anthem, D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better, which was blasted out on the street outside.

Rishi Sunak

The prime minister added: “I cannot and will not claim that we have got everything right. No government could, but I am proud of what we have achieved together, the bold actions we have taken. I’m confident about what we can do in the future.”

However, Starmer is widely expected to become the next prime minister after transforming his party since its historic election defeat almost five years ago.

The prime minister’s announcement triggered immediate speculation that Tory MPs were submitting no-confidence letters, amid widespread concern in the party that he was calling the election despite being so far behind in the polls.

Speaking from a lectern in the street despite the rain, a downbeat Sunak said the election would be a question of trust, warning that the British people could not believe any promise made by Starmer.

“The question now is how and who do you trust to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family and our country,” he said.

It followed a day of febrile speculation in Westminster, triggered by rare good economic news for the government and an unusually timed cabinet meeting, with senior ministers changing their plans to attend.

The prime minister, who has long said his “working assumption” was that the election would be held in the second half of the year, was previously thought likely to wait until the autumn and a further tax-cutting budget before holding a contest when so far behind. However, government insiders suggested Sunak had been convinced that with the economic backdrop unlikely to improve significantly before the autumn, and questions over the delivery of his Rwanda deportation scheme, he would be better off going now.

The timings allow just two days for “wash-up”, when the government finalises non-contentious bits of legislation, suggesting that Sunak’s controversial plans to ban smoking and his flagship renters and leaseholders bills are likely to be dropped. Parliament will be dissolved on 30 May.

After Sunak’s announcement, Starmer posted a video on X, saying it was “time for change” and warning that five more years of the Tories would mean things get worse. “Stop the chaos; turn the page; start to rebuild,” he added.

“After 14 years under the Tories, nothing seems to work any more. Public services crumbling, ambulances that don’t come, families weighed down by higher mortgage rates, antisocial behaviour on our high streets, the list goes on and on. Political chaos feeding decline, feeding chaos, feeding decline.”

The Labour leader added: “Only a changed Labour party will get Britain’s future back. And make no mistake, the Labour party has changed. Reconnected to our purpose: to serve working people as you drive our country forward, with economic stability at the forefront of everything we do. Country first, party second, always.

Source: BBC

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