British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calls for general election in UK

Friday, May 24, 2024

File photo of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
File photo of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Image: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street.

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a general election in the United Kingdom, which is set to take place on the 4th of July. In a statement made outside Number 10, the Prime Minister announced that he had met with King Charles III to discuss the dissolution of parliament; a request which was granted.

Faye Brown, a political reporter for Sky News, views this unexpected move as a significant electoral risk for the Conservative Party, as recent polls have shown the centre-left Labour Party to be ahead of the Conservatives by around twenty points.

The Prime Minister told news agencies that this is "proof that the plan and priorities I set out are working [but] this hard earned economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning".

The end of Mr. Sunak's speech took aim at Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the rival Labour party, saying he had "shown time and time again that he will take the easy way out and do anything to get power". Meanwhile, Mr. Starmer has said that the election is an "opportunity for change", mentioning the issues of sewage in British rivers, people waiting on trolleys in A&E, the cost of living crisis, and crime going "virtually unpunished", as he attacked the Conservatives' record in government.

The Prime Minister has been telling the public for months that the next UK general election would happen in the second half of the year, but refused to elaborate on exactly when. Until today's announcement, most predictions had placed the election in October.

General elections in the UK must be held every five years, so the final day a vote could have taken place would have been 28 January 2025. In 2019, however, the Conservatives restored the prime minister's power to call an election at a time of their choosing within that five years. This bill led to the most recent general election in 2019, in which Boris Johnson was elected prime minister.