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Election 2024: Rishi Sunak takes the plunge on July 4 vote

Rishi Sunak has staked his political future on the promise of “economic stability” and Britain’s security as he rolled the dice to call a general election on July 4.
Rishi Sunak has staked his political future on the promise of “economic stability” and Britain’s security as he rolled the dice to call a general election on July 4.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed that 4 July will be the date for the General Election, following a day of speculation.

Members of the cabinet arrived at Downing Street at 4.15 for a meeting which was announced this morning.

Downing Street refused to rule out a summer general election amid speculation Rishi Sunak could call one imminently, while highlighting “good inflation news” earlier today.

By 4pm, it was being widely confirmed the election would be called for six weeks. An election announced today means polling day would be on 4 July.

Labour have been calling for a General Election for months, if not years; with leader Keir Starmer building a massive 20-point plus lead over the Tories.

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What Sunak said on the steps of Downing Street

Rishi Sunak started his speech talking about the “generation-defining moment” of the furlough scheme during the pandemic, saying it made him proud to be British.

“As I stand here as your Prime Minister, I can’t help but reflect that my first proper introduction to you was just over four years ago. I stood behind one of the podiums upstairs in the building behind me.

“I told you that we faced a generation-defining moment and that we as a society could not be judged by some Government action, but by the small acts of kindness we showed one another.

“You met that challenge and then some, and I had never been prouder to be British.”

“I have never, and will never, leave the people of this country” to face darkness alone.

“We were hit by a pandemic which upended normal life” he said, and just as we were recovering, “war returned to Europe”.

He said he returned to office to “restore economic stability”, commenting on inflation falling and the economy growing rapidly.

“This hard earned economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning, 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?

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future, to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty.

Rishi Sunak

“Earlier today I spoke with His Majesty the King to request the dissolution of Parliament.

“The King has granted this request and we will have a general election on July 4.”

Sunak also attacked Labour during his Downing Street address.

“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.

“Now, I have stuck with that plan and always been honest with you about what is needed, even when that’s been difficult, because I’m guided by doing what is right for our country, not what is easy.

“I can’t say the same thing for the Labour Party, because I don’t know what they offer and, in truth, I don’t think you know either.

“And that’s because they have no plan, there is no bold action, and as a result the future can only be uncertain with them.”

The Prime Minister continued: “On July 5, either Keir Starmer or I will be prime minister.

“He has shown time and time again that he will take the easy way out and do anything to get power.

“I have to say, if he was happy to abandon all the promises he made to become Labour leader once he got the job, how can you know that he won’t do exactly the same thing if he were to become prime minister?

“If you don’t have the conviction to stick to anything you say, if you don’t have the courage to tell people what you want to do, and if you don’t have a plan, how can you possibly be trusted to lead our country, especially at this most uncertain of times?”

Labour’s shadow Chancellor replied by simply saying “bring it on”.

Meanwhile, loudspeaker could be heard playing D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better during Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a July 4 General Election.

The song, associated with Labour’s 1997 general election victory, could be heard over the Prime Minister from within Downing Street as heavy rain poured down in Westminster.

Reaction to Sunak’s announcement

Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister has today asked His Majesty The King to proclaim the Dissolution of Parliament. His Majesty has been graciously pleased to signify that he will comply with this request.

“Parliament will be prorogued on Friday 24 May. Dissolution will take place on Thursday 30 May. The General Election will take place on Thursday 4 July. The new Parliament will be summoned to meet on Tuesday 9 July, when the first business will be the election of the Speaker and the swearing-in of members, and the State Opening will be on Wednesday 17 July.”

, Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey said: “This General Election is a chance to kick Rishi Sunak’s appalling Conservative Government out of office and deliver the change the public is crying out for.

“For years the Conservative Party has taken voters for granted and lurched from crisis to crisis while the problems facing the country are getting so much worse.

“The NHS has been brought to its knees, people’s mortgages and rents have soared by hundreds of pounds a month, and water companies have got away with pumping filthy sewage into our rivers and beaches – all because this Conservative Government is more interested in fighting between themselves than standing up for the needs of the country.

“Every vote for the Liberal Democrats at this election is a vote for a strong local champion who will stand up for your community and health services.

“It’s clear that in many seats across the country, the best way to beat the Conservatives is to vote for the Liberal Democrats.”

Business groups also responded to the announcement, with Karim Fatehi MBE, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), saying: “With a short election campaign about to begin, our political parties need to focus on what matters most to businesses – the key drivers of our economy.

“London’s business community calls on the political parties to prioritise the issues that are hindering growth, such as skills shortages, an unfair business rates system, infrastructure planning and high crime rates.

“London’s success is the UK’s success – and policy makers must recognise that when London’s businesses succeed, the whole country prospers.

“We look forward to engaging with the political parties to ensure the concerns of businesses are heard and to develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure the best possible operating conditions to unlock productivity and economic growth.”

A day of speculation

The announcement of a general election comes after inflation fell to its lowest level since July 2021 on the back of falling energy prices, but still came in ahead of expectations, reducing the chance of a June interest rate cut.

The Bank of England and City economists had expected inflation to fall to 2.1 per cent.

Another contributor to the election call could have been this morning’s borrowing figures. Jeremy Hunt’s hopes of cutting taxes before an election received another blow after government borrowing came in ahead of expectations in April, when released by the ONS this morning.

An hour before Prime Minister’s Questions, journalists all over X were sharing reports a General Election might be called, but nothing concrete was nailed down.

It was later reported a special cabinet meeting had been tabled for 4PM, meaning further speculation about what was about to happen.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary told reporters in Westminster: “I know there’s a lot of interest in this, as there has been pretty much every week over the last five months.

“I’ll just say the same thing I’ve always said, which is I’m not going to rule anything in or out. The PM said election – second half of the year.”

She declined to say when the second half of the year begins in Mr Sunak’s view, noting it “is quite a wide range”.

“It’s not my job to stand here and pre-empt any of that.

“Right now, we’re focused on delivering. Just today, we got good inflation news.”

Downing Street also declined to repeat Rishi Sunak’s previous commitment to keep Jeremy Hunt on as Chancellor until the general election, amid rumours the Prime Minister could announce a reshuffle if he does not name the polling date.

Ministers refused to be drawn on the speculation as one-by-one, they entered Downing Street.

Labour urged Rishi Sunak to “get on with it” and call a general election this afternoon amid speculation the Prime Minister is eyeing a summer vote.

When Labour gets into power, it cannot just pull a lever marked 'investment'.
Sir Keir Starmer

A party spokesman said: “We are fully ready t.. We have a fully organised and operational campaign ready to go and we think the country is crying out for a general election so would urge the prime minister to get on with it.”

Asked what they would think of an election being called on Wednesday afternoon the spokesman said they would “be very happy with that” but accused the Prime Minister of having “bottled it” in the past.