‘Drown & out’: How the papers covered Rishi Sunak’s general election announcement

Rishi Sunak has announced 4 July as the date for the next general election, giving just one week’s notice to the current parliament and firing the starting gun on campaigning.

“Earlier today I spoke with his majesty the King to ask for the dissolution of Parliament. The King has granted this request, and we will have a general election on the 4th of July,” the prime minister said outside Downing Street on Wednesday.

Here’s how major newspapers covered the surprise announcement.

The Independent

We start with this newspaper’s front page, which describes 4 July as “Judgement Day” for 14 years of Conservative rule, a period that has included “five prime ministers [and] countless scandals and resignations”.

The Guardian

The Guardian led with the headline “Sunak’s big gamble”, and reported that the prime minister’s surprise announcement caused “alarm among senior ministers”.

It said that ministers Esther McVey and Chris Heaton-Harris expressed concern about the election date, fearing voters didn’t yet feel economic improvement.

Michael Gove, however, supported Mr Sunak. “Who dares wins,” he reportedly told his cabinet colleagues, invoking the SAS motto. “And you have dared, PM, and will win.”

Daily Mirror

It led with the headline “Drown & Out” and pictured Mr Sunak walking back into No 10, soaking wet in the rain.

The paper reported that Mr Sunak’s speech was overshadowed by protesters playing the New Labour anthem, “Things Can Only Get Better” at full blast.

It added that with rain pouring down on him, the prime minister told voters: “I cannot and will not say that we have got everything right. No government should. But I am proud of what we have achieved together, the bold actions we have taken and I’m confident about what we can do in the future.”

The Daily Mail

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future,” the paper headlined its coverage, quoting Mr Sunak’s speech. It reported that Mr Sunak was “seizing the initiative” by calling a general election amid “Tory jitters”.

The paper quoted the prime minister as saying that “voters must decide between two very different visions”.

Financial Times

The paper led with the headline “Sunak bets on July 4 election” and commented that Mr Sunak made a “big gamble” by calling the election while his party trailed Labour by over 20 points in polls.

A former Tory minister described the decision as “bonkers”, noting: “Not a single colleague is saying they’re pumped up or ready”.

The Daily Telegraph

“Sunak gambles on snap poll” ran the headline on the broadsheet.

“Things can only get wetter,” it commented with wordplay on the Labour anthem “Things Can Only Get Better”.

In an opinion piece on the front page, associate editor Gordon Rayner said Mr Sunak’s message “came across loud and clear: that things have indeed got better under his leadership, and if Sir Keir Starmer becomes prime minister things can only get worse”.

The Times

Mr Sunak “bet the house” by unexpectedly calling a general election, surprising his own cabinet, the paper reported.

It said the prime minister “tried to position himself as the underdog”.


The Metro noted that Mr Sunak ended “months of speculation” with this decision. It called the announcement a “bombshell” move.


The i headlined its coverage “Judgement day: 4 July snap election for UK”.

“Sunak gambles on snap general election - in attempt to catch Labour off guard,” it said.

Daily Express

“PM: I am fighting for our nation’s future” was the Daily Express headline.

It quoted Sunak as saying that his party’s “economic credibility” won by bringing inflation down from over 11 per cent to 2.3 per cent and that “influenced his decision to take the fight to Labour”.