-Top News UK News

Sunak refuses to rule out July election  

Prime minister says he is not distracted by poor personal ratings as rebel MPs are said to be plotting to oust him after local elections…reports Asian Lite News

Rishi Sunak has refused to quash speculation of a July general election as he insisted he was not “distracted” by his personal ratings lingering at record lows. The prime minister said he would not “say anything more than I’ve already said” and that his “working assumption” was there would be an election in the second half of the year.

Senior Conservatives said they believed Downing Street was intentionally allowing rumours of a summer election to spread as a means of instilling discipline among unruly MPs.

The defection of the former Conservative health minister Dr Dan Poulter to Labour could further push rebellious Tories to plot against Sunak.

An Ipsos poll on Thursday showed Sunak’s personal satisfaction rating had fallen to -59, matching a record low for a prime minister that was set by John Major in 1994. Only 16% of people said they were satisfied with Sunak’s performance, while 75% said they were dissatisfied.

Despite a number of Tory rebels plotting to oust Sunak after the local elections, the poll found it was not clear whether a new Tory leader would improve the party’s prospects in a contest with Keir Starmer.

Even Penny Mordaunt trailed behind Starmer on personal ratings by 17 points. The Labour leader’s own ratings have fallen from 29% to 25% since February.

The slump in support for the Tories lingers over No 10 as analysts believe the party will lose as many as half of its councillors in the local elections. Sunak told Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips on Sky that “local elections are always difficult for incumbent parties”. But a defeat for the high-profile West Midlands mayor Andy Street and Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen this week could lead to Sunak facing a confidence vote.

Asked before Poulter’s defection whether the second half of the year for an election includes July, Sunak said: “I’m not going to say anything more than I’ve already said, I’ve been very clear about that.”

Pressed repeatedly whether he was ruling out July, he responded: “I’m not going to do that. You’re going to try and draw whatever conclusion you want from what I say. I’m going to always try and say the same thing. You should just listen to what I said, same thing I’ve said all year.”

The prime minister appeared to hint that he would wait for the country’s economic conditions to improve before calling the election, adding: “I’m determined to make sure that people feel when the election comes that the future is better, that we have turned the corner.”

Downing Street was forced to brush off rumours swirling in Westminster on Friday that Sunak would call a general election on Monday. The latest possible date he could hold the election is 28 January 2025.

The prime minister had sought to boost his premiership last week with a pledge to increase UK defence spending to 2.5% of national income by 2030 and the passing of his flagship Rwanda bill.

Labour has been talking up the prospect of an early summer election, claiming it is an option so the prime minister can avoid having to justify his Rwanda deportation “gimmick”.

Local elections take place across the country on May 2, and if the Conservatives were to suffer a disastrous set of results, Sunak could be forced into an earlier general election.

He could be faced with a leadership challenge, or be persuaded that a polling day sooner rather than later could be better than struggling on with a divided Tory party.

But many Westminster analysts see October or November as the most likely period for an election, with the latest possible date on which it could take place being Jan 28 next year.

Meanwhile, Chris Philp, the policing minister, told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday that an election is “most likely in the autumn”.

Sunak refused to be drawn on whether he would have any regrets if he loses the next general election. “You’re again focused on all this personality stuff. I’m focused on delivering for the country,” he said.

“What I’m doing is getting up every single day and working my hardest to deliver for people on the things that matter to them and matter to me.”

Outlining his recent commitments to overhauling the welfare system, cutting taxes and increasing defence spending, as well as finally getting his Rwanda bill through parliament in an effort to tackle small boat crossings, Sunak said: “That is the substance of what this government is about and what it’s going to do in the future. And when the election comes, there’ll be a clear choice, because the Labour Party has tried to frustrate our Rwanda bill, because they don’t believe in stopping the boats, their economic plan will put people’s taxes up. They haven’t said that they will invest more in our defence and they certainly don’t agree with reforming our welfare system to support people into work.”

ALSO READ-PM Sunak Keeps Door Open for July Election

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *