Why has Rishi Sunak called such an unexpected election?

No Prime Minister of a government defending a 14-year record would want to start a general election campaign like this, writes Paris Gourtsoyannis.

Now the skies have cleared and Rishi Sunak’s suit has dried there’s the chance to digest the strangeness of Wednesday’s election announcement.

Not just the sight of the leader of a country with a nuclear arsenal choosing to stand in the rain for a quarter of an hour without the protection of an umbrella – but the decision itself, which shocked Westminster and dismayed many of the Conservative MPs who now have just six weeks to save their jobs.

I confess I didn’t see it coming. In my defence, so many of the signs were against an early election – and that’s also why Conservatives are perplexed and unhappy.

No Prime Minister of a government defending a 14-year record would want to start a general election campaign like this.

The Conservatives’ deficit in the polls is unprecedented. If they were able to rescue anything from this election it would represent one of the greatest escapes in modern British political history.

Yes, the positive inflation figures yesterday offered a platform for Rishi Sunak’s message of economic recovery – but not a strong one. People are still paying the cost of the huge rise in prices, even if they’ve levelled off.

It will be months before mortgage costs start to fall for homeowners, which adds to the rationale for an election later this year.

The first day of the campaign has seen new figures showing net migration dropping slightly, but still at historically high levels.

And the Prime Minister has had to admit that the policy he has talked more about than any other – the plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda – won’t get off the ground before polling day.

If Labour get into power, the Rwanda plan will be scrapped without a single plane ever taxiing down the runway.

Also scrapped is the measure that Sunak saw as his legacy, a ban on future generations ever purchasing tobacco.

There isn’t time to push it through parliament before it’s dissolved, although it may be revived by the next government.

Under a deluge of bad news, the judgement from Number 10 seems to have been – this could be as good as it gets.

With interest rates staying high for longer, any hope of extra cash for another autumn tax giveaway was washed away. A summer without good news just meant more time for storms.

For Labour and the LibDems, the election announcement might have been a surprise, but at least they were prepared.

Keir Starmer has been on a campaign visit most weeks since the start of the year, and Labour at least was ready for yesterday’s weather, keeping their leader indoors.

Ed Davey’s team had the foresight to put the LibDem leader in Michael Gove’s constituency yesterday – one of the party’s top targets.

It isn’t guaranteed that they can capture the public mood, but both parties have campaign messages that align with how people appear to be feeling: vote for change.

The only party less prepared for yesterday’s announcement than the Tories themselves are the SNP. John Swinney is just two weeks into his leadership, the party is cash-strapped and still struggling under the weight of past scandal and controversy.

Polls confirm the nationalists will face the toughest challenge of the 17-year spell at the summit of Scottish politics.

A lot still depends on the 42-day campaign ahead, and we won’t know the answer to one crucial question for some time: will this election generate any energy or enthusiasm? Or will it end the way it began on Downing Street – a very damp squib?


How do Selkirk locals feel about the upcoming general election? It comes as voters across the UK will head to the polls this summer after Rishi Sunak confirmed the general election will be held on July 4. Read more on the STV News website. #selkirk #scottishborders #scotland #rishisunak #generalelection #election #stv #stvnews

♬ original sound – STV News
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