General Election: Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to face-off on 4 July as snap election called

Riski Sunak and Keir Starmer
Riski Sunak and Keir Starmer (Images: Wikimedia Commons/Simon Walker/Chris McAndrew/No 10 Downing Street)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a snap General Election for 4 July 2024.

The Conservative leader confirmed he will face-off against Labour leader Keir Starmer in a statement outside Downing Street today (Wednesday 22 May).

The politician was due to make the announcement at 5pm, but was delayed by 10 minutes by heavy rain.

The Conservatives are currently 20 points behind Labour in the polls.

Addressing the public in a speech, the Prime Minister said King Charles had granted the dissolution of parliament. Parliament is now due to be prorogued on Friday 24 May and dissolved on Thursday 30 May.

“The most challenging time since the Second World War” – Rishi Sunak

“In the last five years our country has fought through the most challenging time since the Second World War,” he said, while being drowned out by the Labour anthem ‘Things Can On’y Get Better’ by D:Ream blaring from nearby.

Claiming he is guided by what is right, not by what is easy, he went on: “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. On the 5th of July, 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. If he was happy to abandon all the promises he made to become 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?”

He later added: “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.”

Sunak had until December 2024 to call an election and the latest it could have happened was 28 January 2025.

In his own speech, Starmer said: “If the Conservatives get another five years, they will be entitled to carry on exactly as they are” and that he would put “country first and party second”.

“Nothing will change,” he went on, adding that a vote for Labour is a vote for “a politics that treads more lightly… and stops the chaos. … It is time for change.”

“The future is in your hands,” he added. “On July 4, you have a choice. … Together we can stop the chaos, turn the page, and we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country.”

In a quickly-released campaign video, he said: “Britain is a great and proud country, but after 14 years under the Tories, nothing seems to work anymore.

“Public services crumbling, ambulances that don’t come, families weighed down by higher mortgage rates, antisocial behaviour on our high streets – the list goes on and on.”

“The Royal Family will postpone engagements”

A Palace spokesperson said: “Following the Prime Minister’s statement this afternoon calling a general election, the Royal Family will – in accordance with normal procedure – postpone engagements that may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign.

“Their majesties send their sincere apologies to any of those who may be affected as a result.”

One senior minister told the BBC that the Tories were annoyed that Sunak gave his speech in the rain.

“If the whole point was to remind the public that he was Mr Furlough, why not do the speech inside from the same briefing room?” they said.

“Labour MPs are happy. We’re not. That tells a story.”

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