Tory rebels warn Sunak on poll date


Downing Street sources have moved to play down speculation that a summer election could be on the cards, stressing that going to the ballot box in the autumn remains the aim…reports Asian Lite News

Tory rebels have warned Rishi Sunak off holding a June general election, claiming they would launch a fresh move to oust him as leader if that month was picked.

Downing Street sources have moved to play down speculation that a summer election could be on the cards, stressing that going to the ballot box in the autumn remains the aim.

Central to that argument is the improving economic picture, with inflation and possibly interest rates likely to be lower and economic growth higher at the end of the year than now.

But the idea of a June election, which would have to be called by early May if it is to happen, has spooked some critics of the Prime Minister on the Tory backbench.

One Conservative MP told The Telegraph of a June election: “If he does that, the letters will go in before he gets to see the King.

“Colleagues don’t want an election yet. They’re trying to be as loyal as they can, but they think it will be political suicide. Someone’s clearly floating a June election to stop the plotters. He would obviously prefer to be ousted by the election than fellow MPs.”

Another said: “It would be disastrous. It would cause a move against the PM. There is an increasing view that he’s just not up to it. People are thinking ‘we are not having you lead us into the next election’.”

Since the start of the year, the Prime Minister has been saying publicly that he expects the vote to be held in the second half of the year, though he has avoided being categorical. He did earlier in March say that the general election would not be held on May 2, the same day as the local elections.

That comment was widely seen as a sign that a spring election was being ruled out, since sending voters back to the polls a few weeks after the local elections could risk a backlash.

But focus has now turned on whether a surprise summer general election, perhaps in June or early July, could be on the cards. Sunak’s allies accept that if Tory MPs try to force him from office that could trigger an early vote, but otherwise autumn remains the working assumption.

The argument for calling the election in the summer is that the Tory vote share, which has been ticking downwards this year, could fall even further if Number 10 waits until the autumn.

Politicians usually avoid calling elections at the height of summer since Britons often head away for their holidays, making turnout hard to predict.

But on Thursday figures at the top of the party moved to play down the idea of a June election.

A senior Tory source said, “I think everyone needs to enjoy a long weekend and have a cold shower. We have been working on the assumption of Oct/Nov for over a year and I’ve not seen anything to suggest that’s changed.”

Only a small number of advisers and trusted figures are expected to be in the loop about Mr Sunak’s real thinking about when to call the election.

With there being a political incentive to retain an element of surprise and keep the Labour Party guessing, it is difficult to say with confidence exactly what date is being planned.

But the widespread expectation within Westminster among government insiders and MPs of all political stripes is that the election will be called for either October or November.

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