Sunak announces general election on 4 July

"Now is the moment for the country to choose its future," says the prime minister
Rishi Sunak announcing the general election. Photo: PA/Alamy

By Adam Payne

23 May 2024

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has announced that a general election will take place on Thursday, 4 July.

After persistent pressure from many MPs to hold a summer election, Sunak held an impromptu Downing Street press conference and confirmed that the country would go the polls in just over six weeks' time.

"Now is the moment for the country to choose its future," the prime minister said, confirming that he had asked King Charles to dissolve Parliament, paving the way for a summer polling day.

Standing in the rain, Sunak said: "Our economy is now growing faster than anyone predicted, outpacing Germany, France and the United States. And this morning, it was confirmed that inflation is back to normal.

"This means that the pressure on prices will ease and mortgage rates will come down. This is proof that the plan and priorities I sat down are working."

He continued: "I recognise that it has not always been easy.

"Some of you will only just be starting to feel the benefits. And for some, it might still be hard when you look at your bank balance.

"But this hard earned economic instability 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."

There have long been questions about whether the prime minister would hold an election in the autumn or in the summer. During that time, he repeatedly said he assumed it would happen in the "second half" of 2024. He is obliged to hold one before January 2025.

Sunak, who is the Conservative party's third leader and prime minister since the last general election in 2019, will go into the campaign as the heavy underdog.

Since 2022, Labour has maintained large, double-digit leads over the Tories, suggesting that Keir Starmer is likely to become the first Labour leader to win a general election since Tony Blair in 2005. The latest Sky News poll tracker gives Labour an average lead of 21 per cent.

Starmer said the election was a chance for the country to "stop the chaos, turn the page, start to rebuild" after 14 years of Conservative rule.

"The answer is not five more years of the Tories. They have failed. Give the Tories five more years and things will only get worse," said the Labour leader in a statement.

"Britain deserves better than that. Only a changed Labour Party will get Britain’s future back and make no mistake, the Labour Party has changed."

However, Tory strategists hope that inflation falling to just over two per cent will help Sunak narrow the gap through a message to voters that the economy has improved since he entered No 10 in October 2022. The hovernment also hopes to see a deportation flight to Rwanda get off the ground in the coming weeks, which Tories hope will boost their electoral prospects.

In an event last week widely seen as an unofficial campaign launch, Labour leader Starmer put the economy, the National Health Service and curbing illegal migration at the heart of his "first steps" if he wins power.

Adam Payne is political editor at Politics Home, where this story first appeared

Read the most recent articles written by Adam Payne - Northern Ireland: Return to power sharing in sight as DUP agrees deal

Share this page
Partner content