Rishi Sunak calls surprise summer general election

Speaking during heavy rain outside Downing Street, the Prime Minister announced the first July general election in the UK since 1945.

Key Points
  • Prime Minister announces surprise summer general election as voters to go to the polls on July 4
  • Rishi Sunak delivered the announcement as he declared the UK economy is ‘returning back to normal’
  • ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ heard playing throughout speech as the PM is soaked by heavy rain
  • First Minister John Swinney says election is a chance to ‘remove the Tory Government and put Scotland first by voting SNP’
  • Keir Starmer says it’s ‘time for change’ as he urges people to vote Labour
  • Election to clash with Euros and Scottish school holidays
  • It will be the first vote where Scots will have to show ID

The UK general election will be held on July 4, Rishi Sunak has confirmed during a surprise speech outside Downing Street.

The Prime Minister, who was soaked by heavy rain, delivered the shock news on Wednesday evening following a last-minute Cabinet meeting.

During his speech, a member of the public played Things Can Only Get Better by D:Ream, which was heard throughout the entirety of the announcement.

Speculation had mounted throughout the day about a ballot being called after several high-profile figures cut short foreign trips and cancelled TV interviews.

It comes after the Prime Minister declared UK inflation is “back to normal” in a “major milestone” for the country, as it hit its lowest level in nearly three years despite falling by less than economists were expecting.

The news means the vote could clash with the Scottish school holidays.

It will be the first general election where Scottish voters will need to show ID before casting their ballot.

Sunak surprises the country with summer general election announcement

Announcing the general election, Sunak said: “This hard-earned economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning, the question now is how and who do you trust to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family, and our country?

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future, to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty.

“Earlier today I spoke with His Majesty the King to request the dissolution of Parliament.

Scottish public react to summer general election

“The King has granted this request and we will have a general election on July 4.”

He used the moment to attack Labour leader Keir Starmer, who the Prime Minister said had no plan for the country.

A rain-soaked Rishi Sunak confirmed the UK will face a summer general election.Getty Images

Sunak said: “On July 5, either Keir Starmer or I will be prime minister.

“He has shown time and time again that he will take the easy way out and do anything to get power.

“I have to say, if he was happy to abandon all the promises he made to become Labour leader once he got the job, how can you know that he won’t do exactly the same thing if he were to become prime minister?

“If you don’t have the conviction to stick to anything you say, if you don’t have the courage to tell people what you want to do, and if you don’t have a plan, how can you possibly be trusted to lead our country, especially at this most uncertain of times?”

Sunak: I will fight for every vote

Concluding his speech, the Prime Minister said only a Conservative government with him in charge would ensure economic stability.

“Over the next few weeks, I will fight for every vote,” he said.

“I will earn your trust and I will prove to you that only a Conservative government led by me will not put our hard-earned economic stability at risk, can restore pride and confidence in our country, and with a clear plan and bold action will deliver a secure future for you, your family and our United Kingdom.”

The Prime Minister has gambled that improved inflation figures and a recovering economy will help him overturn Labour’s 20-point opinion poll lead.

In a sign that security and the economy will be key battlegrounds, Sunak said: “This election will take place at time when the world is more dangerous than it has been since the end of the Cold War.”

The “uncertain times” call for a “clear plan”, he said.

‘It’s time for change’

Opposition parties react to election news

Opposition parties welcomed the PM’s announcement, with Scotland’s First Minister saying it represents a chance to “remove” the Tories from power and “put Scotland first”.

Swinney, who only became SNP leader earlier this month, said on X, formerly Twitter: “I look forward to leading @theSNP in this election.

“This is the moment to remove the Tory Govt and put Scotland First by voting SNP. People in Scotland know we stand up for them and protect them from the damage done by Westminster.”

Starmer urged Brits to “vote Labour” as he declared it was “time for change” in the UK.

He said: “Britain is a great and proud country. But after 14 years under the Tories, nothing seems to work anymore.

Keir Starmer reacts to election announcement

“Public services crumbling, ambulances that don’t come, families weighed down by higher mortgage rates, antisocial behaviour on our high streets. The list goes on and on.

“Political chaos feeding decline, feeding chaos, feeding decline. The answer is not five more years of the Tories. They have failed.

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

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in