Sunak says polls will happen when people feel ‘things are improving’

A general election has long been expected in October or November

Rishi Sunak arrives at a bus depot for the launch of the local elections campaign on March 22, 2024 in Heanor, England. (Photo by Darren Staples – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Pramod Thomas

PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak has revealed his desire to call a general election when people “feel that things are improving,” reiterating his intention to hold the polls in the latter half of the year, reported The Times.

During a regional radio appearance on Tuesday (2), Sunak chuckled when faced with the most frequently asked question from listeners: when would the general election be held?

He acknowledged the public’s desire for change while accusing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of complacency, citing polls that suggest Labour is poised for a substantial victory.

Although speculation about a summer election persists, with Tory rebels contemplating a leadership challenge following anticipated Tory losses in May’s local elections, a general election has long been anticipated for October or November.

“I’ve repeatedly and clearly stated that my working assumption is to hold a general election in the second half of the year. There’s been no change to that,” Sunak emphasised during his interview with BBC Radio Newcastle.

Having previously positioned himself as a radical departure from the “old consensus,” Sunak has returned to a more traditional narrative that asserts “the plan is working,” painting Labour as a potential threat.

However, acknowledging the allure of the “time for a change” argument after 14 years of Tory governance, Sunak stressed that his plan is “delivering change.”

“Keir Starmer doesn’t have a plan, and I don’t think it’s enough to take people for granted. Of course, people want to see change, but we’re delivering change, and you can’t deliver change unless you’ve got a plan. You can’t just wish it,” Sunak added.

The prime minister argued that offering a choice is crucial in an election, underscoring his government’s efforts to combat inflation, lower energy bills, and initiate tax reductions.

He expressed confidence that the nation is turning a corner despite recent challenges such as the pandemic and geopolitical tensions.

Though he declined to specify the election date further, Sunak hinted that he wanted people to experience more improvements before heading to the polls.

“I think people hopefully will increasingly feel that things are improving and that we’re heading to a place where, as I said, I want to give people peace of mind that there’s a brighter future for them and their families, they can have a renewed sense of pride in our country. That’s the direction of travel, and so we’re now heading in the right way,” Sunak was quoted as saying.

While some Tory MPs advocate for an early election to “get it over with,” Sunak’s allies caution against rushing to the polls, particularly with Labour enjoying a 20-point lead in some polls.

Meanwhile, Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove predicted that the most likely dates for the general election would be November 14 or 21.

Despite adding that he had no insider information, Gove’s comments align with the prevailing expectation of an autumn poll.

The minister’s remarks add to the consensus that the election will occur later in the year, ruling out speculation of a spring ballot.

The decision on the election date rests with the prime minister, who has previously indicated that the “second half” of the year is his preferred timing.

Earlier,chancellor Jeremy Hunt publicly discussed the possibility of an election in October, whereas some wanted to postpone it until after the US presidential election on November 5.

According to reports, delaying the election could provide the Bank of England with additional time to implement interest rate cuts, deemed essential for regaining support from mortgage-holders.