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The UK is heading to an election in July

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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called a general election for July, which could bring an end to 14 years of Tory governments.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called a general election for July.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called an election for July, months before his party’s term officially ends.

Tens of millions of voters across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland will head to the polls on 4 July.

The Conservative Party (aka the ‘Tories’) has been in Government since 2010. Since then, Britain has been led by five prime ministers.

The Labour party is polling ahead of the Tories, as it seeks to return to power for the first time in 14 years.

Background

David Cameron became PM after the Tories won the 2010 election, ending 13 years of Labour governments.

Since then, the Tories have had four more leaders: Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and Rishi Sunak.

Within that time, the Government led the UK’s departure from the European Union (Brexit), faced criticism over its handling of COVID-19, and saw King Charles become monarch after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Election announcement

The UK must hold general elections every five years. The last election was in December 2019.

On Wednesday, Rishi Sunak confirmed a general election would be held on 4 July. The PM said he received approval from King Charles ahead of the announcement, in line with traditional election processes.

During his announcement, “Things Can Only Get Better” played nearby — former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s campaign song when Labour came to power in a 1997 landslide.

Opinion polls

The Tories have been behind Labour in almost every opinion poll since December 2021.

Most recently, Labour has been between 16-22% ahead of the Tories in the polls.

Earlier this month, the Tories suffered signifficant electoral losses at the local council and mayoral elections.

Why July?

The UK has seen high inflation (rising prices) over the past two years. Annual inflation peaked at 11.1% in October 2022, above most comparable global economies.

However, UK inflation fell to 2.3% in the year to April, according to data released on the same day as Sunak’s election announcement.

Sunak said voters have a choice between building “on the progress we have made, or risk going back to square one with no plan or no certainty”.

Labour Party

Labour leader Keir Starmer welcomed the news of the general election.

Starmer criticised “Tory chaos” for the UK’s current cost of living crisis, and promised to “rebuild Britain”.

Labour’s election commitments include cutting hospital wait times and boosting teacher numbers.

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