UK general election on July 4: Everything you need to know

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calls summer poll after day of swirling rumours in Westminster

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Britain's general election will be held on July 4 as Rishi Sunak looks to extend his party’s 14 years in power, despite dire opinion polls for the Prime Minister, which are projecting a landslide Labour victory.

It is the fourth general election called by a Conservative prime minister since David Cameron took power in 2010.

In his announcement, Mr Sunak defended his time in office and said re-electing his party would secure the future for Britain.

Mr Sunak asked the question: "Who do you trust to turn that foundation to secure a future for you, your family, and our country?

Opposition leader Keir Starmer said the election was long overdue after years of government infighting and poor economic performance. "Political chaos feeding decline, feeding chaos, feeding decline. The answer is not five more years of the Tories," he said. "They have failed.

"Give the Tories five more years and things will only get worse. Britain deserves better than that."


Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer came head to head during their first debate on Tuesday, in a combative exchange in which the Prime Minister claimed Labour's policies would "amount to a £2,000 [$2,500] tax rise for everyone".

On Wednesday, it emerged that the Treasury's permanent secretary, James Bowler, said ministers had been told not to suggest civil servants produced the figure at the heart of the Tory attack.

As the Prime Minister doubled down on the attack with an online advert, Labour accused him of being a "desperate liar".

Mr Sunak also claimed the Conservative party had brought inflation under control, wages were growing and that his party would cut taxes, while Mr Starmer, whose advisers later said he “clearly connected with the audience”, blamed former prime minister Liz Truss’ short administration for “crashing the economy”, but failed to deny the tax rise claim at the time.

A snap poll from YouGov suggested the Prime Minister performed marginally better, with 51 per cent making him the winner against 49 per cent for Mr Starmer among people who expressed a preference.

But a Savanta survey pointed to a more convincing victory for Mr Starmer on 53 per cent, ahead of Mr Sunak on 47 per cent, excluding those who said they did not know.

"It felt like the Prime Minister had the upper hand at times – in particular towards the end of the debate – and although our figures suggest he lost narrowly, he probably still outperformed expectations," Chris Hopkins, political research director at Savanta, said in a statement.

Rishi Sunak through the years – in pictures

Surprise entry

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage provided the first surprise of the campaign this week, announcing he would not only be standing as a candidate, after previously ruling it out, but saying he will take over as leader of the party.

Mr Farage said the election needed a bit of “gingering up”, as he described it as “the dullest, most boring election campaign we have ever seen in our lives”.

Addressing hundreds of supporters at a rally in Clacton-on-Sea on Tuesday before a milkshake was thrown at him, Mr Farage said the Tories should "pay a big price" for betraying the promises of Brexit.

"We made an offer to the British people, we could get back our independence and control of our borders," he said.

"But what has happened? The Conservatives have betrayed that trust. They've opened up the borders to mass immigration like we've never seen before. And they deserve to pay a price for that, a big price for that."

The BBC confirmed Mr Farage will join the next election debate, which takes place this Friday and involves seven parties.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt will represent the Conservative Party, facing off against deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner and others.

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey will also not be attending, with his deputy Daisy Cooper stepping in.

They will be joined by Stephen Flynn of the SNP, Carla Denyer of the Green Party and Rhun ap Iorwerth of Plaid Cymru.

Who will win?

Labour is clear favourite in the next election, potentially setting the stage for its return to power for the first time since 2010.

Currently, the Tories have 344 seats in parliament and Labour have 205. Parties need at least 326 seats to create the slimmest of majorities.

Three nationwide opinion polls published this week give the Labour party leads of between 17 per cent and 26 per cent.

An average of all polls that were carried out wholly or partly during the seven days to June 4 puts Labour on 45 per cent, 21 points ahead of the Conservatives on 24 per cent, followed by Reform UK on 12 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 9 per cent and the Greens on 5 per cent.

A development in recent months has been the rise in popularity of the right-leaning Reform party, which was averaging about 6 per cent last summer and is now close to double that rating, at 11 per cent.

Mr Sunak can say he has made progress on his five pledges, which centred on economic recovery and limiting migration, particularly from boats through the English Channel.

Britain last held a general election in 2019 when prime minister Boris Johnson swept into power with a massive parliamentary majority.

His leadership was successful in taking Britain out of the EU but was marred by allegations over his personal conduct during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following his resignation, he was replaced by Liz Truss who herself stepped down in 2022 after financial markets revolted against her economic plans.

Mr Sunak, who served as Mr Johnson's chancellor, has since struggled in the polls, with voters expressing concerns over inflation, migration and the conflict in Ukraine.

It follows a difficult period for the Conservatives, who have suffered two defections by back bench MPs and a drubbing at the local elections this month.

Keir Starmer through the years – in pictures

Updated: June 06, 2024, 7:51 AM