Support our Nation today - please donate here

Sunak gambles on summer election – why is he going earlier than expected?

22 May 2024 3 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announcing the general election outside 10 Downing Street. Photo Lucy North/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak has pulled the trigger on a General Election campaign, taking a gamble by announcing a July 4 date while his party languishes in the polls.

The Prime Minister has long insisted the national vote would happen in the second half of this year, which many in Westminster thought to mean October or November.

But on Wednesday afternoon, the Tory leader stepped out on to a rainy Downing Street to call a surprise summer election.

There are several reasons he may have chosen to go earlier than many expected.

Welcome news

Wednesday brought some rare welcome news for the Prime Minister, as official figures showed inflation slowed to 2.3% in April, the lowest level in nearly three years.

Mr Sunak declared inflation is “back to normal” in a “major milestone” for the country.

It came after data earlier this month showed the economy grew by 0.6% over the first quarter, ending a technical recession recorded in the final half of last year.

The Prime Minister will be hoping that signs of a recovering economy will help him overturn Labour’s 20-point opinion poll lead.

At the same time, he may be sensing that the economic landscape is unlikely to improve significantly before the autumn.

Worse off

People still feel worse off than before the pandemic, the Chancellor acknowledged earlier on Wednesday, with brighter economic statistics unlikely to feed through to them over the next few months.

One reason for delaying might have been to allow Jeremy Hunt to deliver another tax-cutting financial statement in the lead-up to the vote, but official figures revealed borrowing for April overshot forecasts, hitting £20.5 billion, suggesting he would have had limited scope for pre-election giveaways.

The Prime Minister may also be banking on deportation flights to Rwanda taking off over the coming weeks during the election campaign, which would allow him to claim a victory in his flagship asylum plan.

It may also allow him to avoid a likely spike in small boat arrivals across the English Channel, which tend to increase in the warmer months.

The number of migrants to have arrived in the UK across the Channel in 2024 is already approaching the 10,000 mark, imperilling Mr Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats”.

NHS waiting lists also remain higher than they were when the Prime Minister vowed to cut them, and may not drastically fall before the autumn.


Meanwhile, questions have long swirled over Mr Sunak’s leadership, with rumblings of Tory rebels reaching fever pitch in anticipation of challenging May local elections for the party.

Although the local and mayoral polls did see a mauling for the Conservatives – who lost nearly 500 council seats, the West Midlands mayoral race and the Blackpool South by-election – calls for Mr Sunak to be replaced at the helm of the party appeared to fizzle out.

But he may have been keen to get ahead of any further plotting by calling a summer general election.

Mr Sunak may have also wanted to dodge any further defections, after he suffered two recent defections to Labour and one to Reform UK.

Most analysts expect the polls to narrow during the six-week election campaign.

However, it appears unlikely a July election will drastically move the dial on the Tories’ prospects.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
21 days ago

It would be an opportune moment to bury some news you would prefer the G7 populace to not worry too deeply about. America celebrating the 4th July, UK a general election, Europe in the middle of a UEFA football competition and the Tour de France in full swing. There are probably other events to include. Following the vote, Starmer gets presented with a fait accompli but no glaring personal responsibility to manoeuvre around. Sunak melts away into the background. Biden gets a pat on the back from the Hawks. Macron gets to indulge his fantasy. Never waste a good distraction… Read more »

21 days ago

Surely he could have borrowed an umbrella if he didn’t have enough money left over after spending £3500 on his suit.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
21 days ago

“why is he going earlier than expected?”

Who cares? Some people have wanted a general election for a while and most people will be glad to get the chance to kick out the tories!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
19 days ago

‘I’m here to steal from the Poor and lavish on the Rich’…

Sunak and Hunt @Slash, Burn and Pillage UK…for another six weeks…

“one door closes while another traps your fingers” * Hopefully!

You will come back for the court case won’t you Rishi Ji, how many died after taking your advice to ‘eat out to help out’ without any medical advice whatsoever, sounds like manslaughter of some kind to me…

*Jim Eldon, The Bridlington Fiddler…

Last edited 19 days ago by Mab Meirion

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.