UK’s Sunak Fails to Quell Early Election Rumours

UK’s Sunak Fails to Quell Early Election Rumours

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak failed to stem growing speculation on Wednesday that he might call an early election after ministers cancelled events and either curtailed or delayed foreign trips to attend a government meeting.

For most of Wednesday, rumours swirled around parliament that the British leader was poised to call an election – something neither he nor his team would confirm or deny.

Earlier, when asked about the rumours, Sunak stuck to his wording that a national election would be held in the second half of 2024.

But then foreign minister David Cameron cut short a trip to Albania and the defence minister delayed a foreign visit to attend a cabinet meeting of senior ministers, Reuters reported.

That fuelled speculation that the meeting could be required to sign off on a decision to call an election earlier than the October or November dates that most pundits had seen as most likely.

“Spoiler alert: there is going to be a general election in the second half of this year,” Sunak told parliament.

Sunak’s press secretary declined to be drawn on the rumours.

“I know there is a lot of interest in this, as there has been pretty much every week over the last five months. I will just say the same thing I have always said, which is that I am not going to rule anything in or out,” she told reporters.

The strategy is risky. Sunak’s Conservatives are running way behind Labour in the opinion polls, and despite hailing a decline in inflation and an increase in defence spending, they have failed to make a dent in the opposition party’s lead.

Labour has held a lead over the Conservatives of around 20 points in opinion polls since late 2021 – before Sunak took office in October of that year.

The party said on Wednesday it was more than ready for an election.

“We are fully ready to go whenever the prime minister calls an election. We have a fully organised and operational campaign ready to go and we think the country is crying out for a general election,” Labour leader Keir Starmer’s spokesperson told reporters.

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