June 18th, 2024

Rishi Sunak to address nation as expectation mounts he will call a summer election

By The Associated Press on May 22, 2024.

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was due to address the nation on Wednesday amid mounting expectations that he will call a summer general election.

Sunak’s office confirmed that he would issue a statement statement after positive economic figures set Britain’s political rumor mill alight with speculation that an election might be imminent. Multiple British media outlets said he would name a July 4 date for the election.

Sunak’s office declined to quash the rumors and refused “to rule anything in or out” after reports that the prime minister planned to announce the U.K.’s long awaited election for the summer.

Britain must hold a national election by January 2025, and Sunak has repeatedly said it will be in the back end of 2024.

He stuck to that line Wednesday, answering a lawmaker’s question about whether there would be a summer vote: “Spoiler alert: There is going to be a general election in the second half of this year.”

That could mean any time from July 1. Since British elections are usually held on Thursday, speculation has centered on July 4 as a potential date.

Speculation mounted when Sunak called a Cabinet meeting for Wednesday afternoon ““ rather than the usual Tuesday ““ and Foreign Secretary David Cameron flew back early from a trip to Albania to attend.

British elections must be held at least every five years, but the timing is the prime minister’s choice. If Sunak were to announce one, he’d make a courtesy call on King Charles III, then set a date for the dissolution of Parliament, the formal end of its term. An election would be held 25 working days later.

Sunak’s Conservative Party has been in office since 2010, and polls suggest it lags well behind the center-left opposition Labour Party.

He is the third Conservative prime minister since the last election in 2019. He took office through party selection in October 2022 after the turbulent terms of Boris Johnson ““ felled by ethics scandals ““ and Liz Truss, who caused economic turmoil with unfunded tax cuts.

Sunak managed to steady the economy, but without boosting the Conservatives’ popularity with the public.

He may take heart from figures released Wednesday showing inflation in the U.K. fell sharply to 2.3%, its lowest level in nearly three years on the back of big declines in domestic bills.

The drop in April marks the greatest progress to date on five pledges Sunak made in January 2023, including halving inflation, which had climbed to above 11% at the end of 2022. Sunak hailed the figure as a sign his economic plan was working.

Labour said “the country is crying out for a general election so would urge the prime minister to get on with it.”

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