Rishi Sunak says it is a ‘working assumption’ that the vote will be held in the second half of the year.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said it is his “working assumption” that a general election will be called for during the second half of 2024.
“My working assumption is we’ll have a general election in the second half of this year, and in the meantime, I’ve got lots that I want to get on with,” he told reporters during a visit to Nottinghamshire on Thursday.
Sunak refused to rule out holding an election in May, coinciding with local elections, but said he had to get the economy back on track.
“I want to keep going, managing the economy well and cutting people’s taxes, but I also want to keep tackling illegal migration,” Sunak said. “I’ve got lots to get on with, and I’m determined to keep delivering for the British people.”
The Tories, who have had five leaders and prime ministers since they were elected in 2010, are widely expected to struggle in the election and they are trailing behind the Labour Party in the polls.
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer also made his first appearance of the New Year in Bristol on Thursday.
Starmer is aiming to return his left-of-centre party, out of office since 2010, back to power in an election that must be held by January 2025.
“We are ready for an election. I think the country is ready for elections. People are crying out for change. And I say to the prime minister, what is he hiding?” Starmer told Sky News.
“This has serious implications for the country because he’s basically saying he’s going to be squatting for months and months in Downing Street, dithering and delaying”.
Sunak has struggled to make progress on his main pledges, including stopping migrants from arriving in small boats, growing the economy and cutting hospital waiting lists. He has hit one target of halving inflation by the end of 2023, but economists say that has little to do with government policy.
He faces threats from all sides.
Labour’s Starmer has vowed to fight the Conservatives on the economy, traditionally seen as one of their strengths, while the right-wing Reform UK party has refused to renew its pact with the governing party to help protect its parliamentary seats.
Sunak also must try to quell a growing rebellion inside his own party, with some lawmakers threatening to try to oust him if he refuses to cut taxes, something they believe could help win back traditional Conservative supporters.
He will be hoping a so-called spring budget on March 6 can deliver such party-pleasing announcements.