Rishi Sunak would be 'off his head' to call a summer general election, says former Cabinet minister

Rishi Sunak would be “off his head” to call a summer general election, says a former Cabinet minister.

Ex-Brexit Secretary Sir David Davis warned it would be “suicidal in political terms" to go to the country within a few months, with the Tories currently trailing Labour in the polls by around 20 points.

Some Tory MPs believe a summer election would be better, as they doubt the economy will recover significantly by the autumn and more people could cross the Channel in “small boats” by then.

But amid the talk of a summer poll, Sir David told Times Radio: "The government would be off its head to do that...It's going to go distant, sometime in November, maybe even December to allow some of the economic improvements to come through.

“So no, it would be a suicidal thing to do in political terms."

Earlier, a leading political expert said Mr Sunak’s Tories are too far behind in the polls to have a path to victory at a general election in July or earlier.

Sir John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, believes that if the Conservatives went for a snap summer poll they would suffer the same fate as Harold Wilson in 1970.

He called a June 18 election as the economy was picking up, Labour did well in the May local elections, but then lost at the general election.

Edward Heath’s Conservatives won 330 seats to Labour’s 287, with an overall swing of 4.7 per cent from Labour to his party.

Now, Mr Sunak appears in a less favourable position than Mr Wilson was in ahead of the 1970 election, with the prospect of heavy Tory defeats in the local elections next week.

Sir John told ITV’s Peston show: “Look the Conservatives are still 19 points behind in the opinion polls, there is no sign of any significant recovery so far, I do not see how any government could anticipate a recovery of the scale that would be required to be able to form the next government between now and July.

“And just remember what happened to Harold Wilson in 1970 - he went all of a sudden when the polls went very suddenly in his favour and he ended up losing because it proved to be a sham.”

He still believes that the general election is likely to be in November.

Mr Sunak could announce it in his speech at the end of the Tories’ annual conference on October 2.

Just days ago, the Prime Minister declined to rule out a summer election, possibly in July.

As he travelled to Poland on Tuesday to announce a military aid package for Ukraine, he repeated his line that he intends to call a vote in the second half of the year.

He told reporters on the plane: “All I’m going to say is the same thing I say every time. As I said, I think it was in the first week of January, my working assumption is an election in the second half of the year.”

Many Westminster analysts see October or November as the favoured period for a national poll, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt having signalled that it will be in the autumn.

The latest possible date Mr Sunak could delay the election until is January 28 2025.

But a disastrous set of local elections in May could force his hand, either by leading to a challenge to his leadership or by persuading him that an earlier polling day could be a better solution than limping on with a divided party.