6 JANUARY 2024 | NEWS IN BRIEF
The weekly Westminster digest. Covering the biggest stories in British politics.
Rishi Sunak has hinted he will call the next General Election in the second half of 2024, quashing speculation that it could take place as early as spring.
It comes after reports the Prime Minister could have called an election as early as May this year – despite an unfavourable forecast. Instead, he said his “working assumption” was that an election would be called “in the second half of this year”.
The Labour Party has for some time led the opinion polls, suggesting the majority of the electorate would vote for Sir Keir Starmer.
Ipsos MORI’s latest survey, published on 20 December, showed that 41% of people would vote for the Labour Party, followed by 24% who said they would vote Conservative.
The same poll showed that 8 in 10 Brits believe Mr Sunak’s government has done a bad job on immigration – thought to be one of the key issues to shape the outcome of the next General Election.
Sir Keir, who is gearing up for government, told the Prime Minister earlier this week to “bring it on”. Meanwhile, his party accused Mr Sunak of having “yet again bottled giving the British public their say”.
The Opposition also blasted him for “squatting in Number 10 because he’s too weak to face the country”.
Starmer made a speech on Thursday setting out his vision for governance ahead of this year’s anticipated General Election, which can be watched here in full:
“We don’t just expect an election on the economy, we want an election on the economy,” he said, promising to “drag politics in this country back to service, tilt our economy back towards the interests of working people”.
The Government said it is focused on getting the job done, but grassroots Conservatives have repeatedly attacked Mr Sunak for “backstabbing” Boris Johnson.
They say the Prime Minister is unelected, and that they lack confidence in his ability to “stop the boats”.
Instead, the voters who will be key to keeping Mr Sunak in Downing Street are turning to Reform UK, now led by Richard Tice and formerly led by Nigel Farage as the ‘Brexit Party’. The fringe group is seen as a ‘right-wing alternative’ to the current Government.
Speculation also continues as to whether Nigel Farage will return to national politics by rejoing the Conservatives – a move that may prove popular amongst voters, but that will likely mean a lurch to the right.
This speculation began when Mr Farage attended the Conservative Party Conference in October, despite not being a party member or supporter.
However, in launching the party’s campaign, Mr Tice made a speech at a press conference announcing Reform UK’s agenda, which can be watched below: