Rishi Sunak calls snap general election as Scots finally given chance to vote out Tory Government

Embattled Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed a date for the next UK general election.

The Conservative party leader - whose party has been rocked by months of scandals - announced today that voters will go to the polls on Thursday, July 4 following hours of intense speculation at Westminster.

The UK Parliament will be dissolved next week.

It means Scots will finally have a chance to vote out the tired Tories after soaring fuel bills and rocketing food prices left thousands struggling to make ends meet.

Repeated opinion polls show Labour is around 20 points ahead of the Conservatives when it comes to UK voting intentions - meaning Keir Starmer could be on the verge of an historic victory if he can convince voters to turn out on the day.

Scotland will be one of the key general election battlegrounds with the SNP predicted to struggle to retain all of their 48 seats after a bruising 14-month period for the party.

Sunak had been expected to call a general election in October or November given the dire state of his party.

But he has been under huge pressure internally from inside his own party on tax and small boats crossing the English Channel.

Rumours of a general election announcement started spreading after official figures showed inflation slowed to 2.3 per cent in April. This is the lowest level since July 2021.

Cabinet ministers were summoned to Downing Street for a meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Foreign Secretary David Cameron returned from a trip from Albania and Defence Secretary Grants Shapps delayed a foreign visit.

Sunak has been Prime Minister since October 2022. He took over from Liz Truss after she lasted less than two months in charge.

The First Minister has said the General Election on July 4 will be a chance to “remove the Tory Government”.

Speaking after the announcement by Rishi Sunak, John Swinney set his sights firmly on the Prime Minister’s party rather than Labour, which polls suggest is the SNP’s closest rival in Scotland.

Swinney said: “I look forward to leading the SNP in this election.

“This is the moment to remove the Tory Govt and put Scotland First by voting SNP. People in Scotland know we stand up for them and protect them from the damage done by Westminster.”

The leader of the Scottish Tories said his party is ready to “take the fight to the SNP” and beat them in “key seats up and down Scotland”.

“This election in Scotland is a huge opportunity to defeat the SNP and put an end to their obsession with independence for good,” said Douglas Ross.

“If voters unite in the many seats where it’s a straight fight between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP, we can get rid of nationalist MPs who have never focused on the things that really matter.

“In key seats up and down Scotland, only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP and get all of the attention on to voters’ top priorities, such as creating good jobs, reducing NHS waiting lists and investing in schools.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the people of the UK are “desperate for change”.

“After 14 years of Tory chaos and failure, this is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss,” he said.

“Scotland is crying out for change and that change is only possible with a Labour government led by Keir Starmer that is on the side of working people.

“Voting Scottish Labour means booting out this rotten Tory Government, maximising Scotland’s influence with Scottish Labour MPs in government and delivering the change that Scotland needs.

“It’s time for change and Labour is ready to deliver it.”

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