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Prime Minister announces snap summer election

By Connor Steel

PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak has announced that the 2024 ‘General Election’ will be held on July 4 (Thursday) as he addressed the nation from Downing Street on Wednesday evening (May 22); the Conservative Party leader ending this large speculation just hours after it was confirmed that the rate of inflation fell to 2.3% in a ‘major step’ for the economy.

The awaited election announcement was made after 5pm and follows an urgent cabinet meeting within Downing Street through the afternoon regarding the final date, which has been set for six weeks time. In this vote all 650 constituencies will elect their Member of Parliament in the Commons to decide the future composition of any new elected government.

Speculation had been rife after it was announced that inflation rates had fallen to its “lowest level in three years” at 7am on Wednesday; thus hitting Government targets with our economy also out of recession and looking “brighter”. The PM is also hoping that flights to Rwanda will begin before July 4 with crucial legislation becoming law early on in the spring.

The last General Election was held on December 12, 2019, and saw the Conservatives win a big overall majority of 80 seats under Boris Johnson; further sealing the party’s biggest election win since Margaret Thatcher’s era. This number currently sits at forty-five seats following a series of changes, including multiple MPs losing the “whip” and by-elections.

Mr Johnson continued as UK Prime Minister until mid-July 2022, before he resigned and he was replaced by Liz Truss, who only lasted until late October 2022 as she quit following an infamous mini-budget. Mr Sunak took over the top role days after this resignation and hopes to extend his ‘tenure’ past 21 months, depending on how the public votes in July.

Speaking from the lectern Mr Sunak reflected on these last five years of this Parliament, outlining that this country had fought through “the most challenging times since World War Two.” This includes the Covid-19 pandemic ‘lockdowns’ in 2020/21, the wars in Ukraine / Gaza, the death of Queen Elizabeth II and cost of living crisis which is ongoing for many.

But he was keen to list some of the achievements since 2019 such as securing the UK’s exit from the ‘European Union’ and the provision of “record funding” to the NHS, as well as the Covid vaccine rollouts. Other positives were referenced in the speech including the public response to the pandemic, improvement of children’s reading and defence spending.

In response the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said this vote would be a chance to change the country “for the better” and that “it will feel like a long campaign”. Meanwhile Reform leader Richard Tice said “We’re ready” via a social media post and this was joined by a statement by Liberal Democrats chief Sir Ed Davey who also welcomed the new election.

Current polling suggests that Labour will be the biggest party after this election, but big questions do remain about the possibility of either a majority or hung parliament at this time. The vote will be held nine weeks after the ‘local elections’ in May, which saw the Tories lose just under 500 seats across the council and many opposition parties gain councillors.

Parliament will be prorogued on Friday and this will mark the formal end for this session, whilst it will be fully dissolved next Thursday (May 30) after Mr Sunak gained permission from His Majesty the King during a ‘private meeting’. It does mean that all MPs cease in their roles and become candidates in the election; with campaigning then running to July 4.

This will include regular political party broadcasts and TV debates involving leaders / ministers; whilst a number of local debates are due to be held across the UK for constituents. Both of the Gosport and new Fareham & Waterloovile areas are due to follow this pattern where current MPs Dame Caroline Dinenage and Suella Braverman hold large majorities.

The exit poll will be released at 10pm on July 4 with the results announced by early morning; which will decide the next Government and also indeed ‘Prime Minister’. The elected MPs will travel to London on July 9 to be officially sworn into Westminster, whilst the State Opening of Parliament will be held on July 17; a ceremonial event led by King Charles III.

Readers are encouraged to explore media links like BBC NewsSky News and ITV News for fresh developing updates on this breaking story; whilst the Globe will be providing ‘local’ campaign stories and information over the next 6 weeks.

PICTURED BY ALAMY (2X824W5): Rishi Sunak defies wet downpour to give announcement to nation on Wednesday.