Rishi Sunak calls general election - when it's happening and what happens next

Regional Mayoral elections
-Credit: (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

A general election has been called by Rishi Sunak this afternoon (May 22) here's when it is happening and what will happen next. The election will take place on July 4, the PM announced outside Downing Street this afternoon.

There has been speculation over the possibility of a general election for weeks, at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, the Conservative Party leader refused to rule out a summer vote as he repeated his mantra that it will happen in the second half of the year – which could be as early as July.

Rumours about an imminent announcement swirled amid some rare welcome news for Mr Sunak, as official figures showed inflation slowed to 2.3 per cent in April, the lowest level since July 2021.

READ MORE: What happens if a general election is called - voting, changes, timeline, who is in power

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer celebrating at Blackpool Cricket Club after Chris Webb was declared winner in the Blackpool South by-election
Labour urged the Prime Minister to “get on with it” and trigger a general election which Britons are “crying out for” -Credit:PA Wire/PA Images

The rumour mill was stoked further as it emerged Defence Secretary Grant Shapps delayed a trip to the Baltic states by a few hours and Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron cut short a visit to Albania so they could attend a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Downing Street did nothing to quell the speculation or some claims that Mr Sunak could instead announce a reshuffle of his top team, with questions over Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s political fate.

Mr Sunak, when challenged over whether he was intending to fire the starting gun on an election campaign, told the Commons: “There is, Mr Speaker – spoiler alert – there is going to be a general election in the second half of this year.

“At that moment, the British people will in fact see the truth about the honourable gentleman opposite me (Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer), because that will be the choice at the next election, Mr Speaker – a party that is not able to say to the country what they would do, a party that would put at risk our hard-earned economic stability, or the Conservatives that are delivering a secure future for our United Kingdom.”

Labour urged the Prime Minister to “get on with it” and trigger a general election which Britons are “crying out for”. If Mr Sunak were to call an election afterwards, a six-week campaign could mean a July 4 polling day.

The Prime Minister would need to ask permission from the King to dissolve Parliament. If granted, dissolution would be timed to allow for the vote to happen on Mr Sunak’s preferred date.

Polling day takes place 25 working days after dissolution, with bank holidays not counted, and is by convention held on a Thursday. At the point of dissolution, every seat in the Commons would become vacant and Government would enter a pre-election period during which its activity would be restricted.

This is a breaking news story, more to follow.

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