Rishi Sunak calls General Election for July 4 as Prime Minister makes statement

Rishi Sunak has called a General Election for July 4. The Prime Minister and Conservative Party will head to the polls in six weeks as Mr Sunak called for a shock General Election ahead of the widely-predicted date of the autumn, most likely in November.

Deputy PM Oliver Dowden in particular has been pushing for a summer election, Sky News reports. Sky News political editor Beth Rigby said: "That has been an open discussion in government - whether or not to wait until the autumn when voters potentially have proof that the economy is turning the corner, they perhaps feel a bit better off, and the PM's flights are off to Rwanda."

"For a prime minister to come back from that kind of poll deficit to win - that would be a first, it would be a record-breaking performance," she said. "It would also mean five consecutive Conservative Party election wins on the bounce - again, hasn't happened in modern times.

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"So, I think it's fair to say that the odds are clearly stacked against him in terms of the polling," Beth says, but adds that No 10 thinka the polls will narrow. She said: "On the back these good inflation figures, the International Monetary Fund upgrading the growth forecasts, the UK coming out of recession, the prime minister looks like he is going to go in the summer."

Ahead of the announcement, a spokesperson for Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “We are fully ready to go whenever the prime minister calls an election." The spokesperson for the Opposition went on, saying: “We have a fully organised and operational campaign ready to go. And we think the country is crying out for a general election so I would urge the prime minister to get on with it.”

Labour is about 20 points ahead in the polls and Starmer is widely expected to become the next PM. Speaking to political journalists at lunchtime, the PM's spokespeople refused to rule out a general election being called today, despite being asked by multiple journalists.

At PMQs at lunchtime, Mr Sunak refused to quash the speculation when asked directly by the SNP's Stephen Flynn, repeating his assertion that it will be in "the second half of the year" (which starts in July).