UK PM Rishi Sunak firmly rules out May 2 general election
   Date :15-Mar-2024

By Aditi Khanna
London, Mar 15 (PTI) British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has firmly ruled out an early general election to coincide with local polls scheduled for May 2 amid intense speculation from the Opposition Labour benches.
The British Indian leader had indicated earlier in the year that he was considering going to the polls in the second half of the year but in recent weeks there had been mounting theories that he may call a snap election in early May.
But during an interview with ‘ITV News West Country' channel on Thursday, he sought to quash the speculation having previously preferred to keep people guessing.
“In several weeks' time we've got elections for police and crime commissioners, for local councils, for mayors across the country,” the 43-year-old prime minister said.
Asked if there would also be a general election at the same time, Sunak said: “There won't be a general election on that day but when there is a general election, what matters is the choice.”
“I can see that the Labour Party are trying to whip up this idea that I'm about to call a general election. It's very deliberate, it's because they want to avoid questions about how they're going to fund all of their spending commitments,” he added.
Labour's deputy national campaign coordinator Ellie Reeves responded on Friday to say “people rightly want a general election” after 14 years of a Conservative-led government and accused the governing Tories of “running scared”.
“I think he should get on and call it for May 2. What's he running scared of,” Reeves told ‘Sky News'.
Sunak faces a tough political landscape as his party lags in most opinion polls with clear signs of anti-incumbency, with the Labour Party holding a steady lead.
A lot was riding on the Spring Budget earlier this month when Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced some tax cuts. However, the reaction on all sides of the political spectrum is that the announcements are unlikely to have favourably moved the dial on the electoral fortunes of the Conservative Party.
The repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act in 2022 restored the ability of British prime ministers to set election dates. However, by law a general election has to take place at least every five years, making January 2025 the outermost deadline for Sunak to go to the ballot box.
While local council and mayoral elections across England, which take place every four years, have been scheduled for May 2 for some time, the date for a general election remains uncertain.