UK PM Sunak Again Refuses To Rule Out July General Election - Eastern Mirror
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UK PM Sunak again refuses to rule out July general election

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By IANS Updated: Apr 28, 2024 6:39 pm
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LONDONA — UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has again refused to rule out a July general election, amid speculation that a disastrous set of local election results for the Tories could force his hand.

Sunak said he would not “say anything more than I’ve already said”, which is that the national poll is likely to be in the second half of the year.

Most Westminster analysts take this as meaning October or November, although it could technically also mean July.

However, a drubbing in mayoral and council elections on May 2 could either lead to a challenge to his leadership or persuade him that an earlier polling day could be a better solution than limping on with a divided party.

The defection of a Conservative ex-health minister to Labour could further spook already restive Tory MPs and increase the pressure on the Prime Minister.

Dan Poulter on Saturday announced he was quitting the Tory Party, which he accused of no longer prioritising the overstretched NHS.

Sunak was asked on Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, recorded before Poulter’s shock defection, whether the latter half of 2024 could mean July.

The Prime Minister said: “I’m not going to say anything more than I’ve already said, I’ve been very clear about that.”

Pressed repeatedly whether he was ruling out July, he said: “I’m not going to do that.”

“You’re going to try and draw whatever conclusion you want from what I say. I’m going to always try and say the same thing. You should just listen to what I said, same thing I’ve said all year.”

When presenter, Trevor said he wanted to know when to book his summer holidays, the Prime Minister replied: “Actually, Trevor, it’s more important than your holiday or anyone’s holiday. I’ve got a job to do which is delivering for the country.”

“And as we’ve been talking about, we are delivering when it comes to tackling illegal migration. We’re delivering when it comes to investing in our defence.”

The full interview will air on Sky News on Sunday morning.

In less than a week, the Tories are expected to lose about half of their council seats up for election, while their two most high-profile regional mayors face difficult contests.

Some analysts believe defeat for West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen could lead to the Prime Minister facing a no-confidence vote, with 52 Tory MPs needed to trigger one.

Rumours were swirling in Westminster on Friday that Sunak could fire the starting gun on an election campaign as soon as Monday in a bid to thwart a possible challenge from restive MPs, though Downing Street brushed them off.

The latest possible date he could hold the election is January 28, 2025.

Sunak sought to bolster his premiership this week with a flurry of announcements, including the passing of Rwanda asylum legislation and a pledge to spend 2.5 per cent of the gross domestic product on defence by 2030.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps urged colleagues considering ousting Sunak before the general election to “let him get on with the job.”

“Now is not the time or place” to try to put in place yet another Conservative leader, he told The Times.

But a BMG survey for the i paper suggested that voters who backed the Conservatives in 2019, but have since deserted the party, would be more likely to vote Tory under a different leader.

6091
By IANS Updated: Apr 28, 2024 6:39:38 pm
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