• Monday, June 24, 2024

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Did Sunak call for early polls to get rid of cramped No.10?

The Conservative prime minister surprised many people by calling the polls suggesting that the UK’s economy has started making a turnaround.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak waves to members of the media after taking office outside Number 10 in Downing Street on October 25, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

DID prime minister Rishi Sunak call for early elections on July 4 because he is tired of staying in the cramped No.10 and wants the agony to end quicker?

According to a report by Politico trying to understand what made the Tory leader announce the polls all of a sudden when speculation was rife that his government could buy more time, the incumbent PM saw despite all his claims and promises, his polling numbers did not improve which meant the writing is on the wall.

Moreover, given the fact that the Sunak family’s personal fortune has taken a big leap of late, staying at No.10 perhaps seemed less appealing, both politically and spatially, and a loss in the upcoming election would mean that Sunak can plan for something nicer next.

“If he was going to lose, why not lose now, and head off for a brighter future with his buddies in Silicon Valley?” the Politico article read.

Read: Sunak, Starmer hit campaign trail as election race kicks off

However, there are also other reasons that suggest that Sunak is trying to think ahead of his opponents and considers the current time is the best one to pull the trigger.

The announcement for the poll came when people were speculating over the next elections and the general belief was that it could be held in September and October when Sunak completes two years in office. The Conservative leader had until December to call an election, which could have taken place in January next year.

Economy the reason?

One of the major reasons why he called for early elections is the belief that the UK’s economy is turning around after the country’s inflation was seen to have fallen to an almost three-year low. For the prime minister who is fighting challenges on many fronts, this moment has given his government a breathing space and he decided to take on the electoral challenge head on. What if there is not such an opportunity again over the next few months? 

Read: What happens in a UK national election?

Rumours of Sunak calling for an election became stronger after the Office of National Statistics revealed early on Wednesday that inflation fell to 2.3 per cent in April, nearing the Bank of England’s target and quite down from the 11 per cent in October 2022 when he took over.

Sunak said economic stability has returned, pointing to falling inflation and a growing economy even though even some Conservatives’ loyal voters were not convinced by the claim.

To surprise the opponent?

This was perhaps the best strategic respite that Sunak had to call the polls, despite the general mood being not so favourable. The Conservatives are staring at a massive defeat, trailing 20 percentage points behind the opposition Labour and Sunak’s sudden call for the polls was aimed at surprising Keir Starmer’s party.

The PM hopes that the element of surprise will give an advantage to his party and that the current outlook of the voters could not get any better.

The Telegraph reported that the logic that No.10 Downing harbours is that given all factors, July makes for the least bad option.

The much debated Rwanda deportation scheme has become a law which means Sunak has some control over immigration, an issue that has remained a burning one in British politics of late. It could also be another boosting point for the administration which is otherwise struggling.

Spending commitments

Another factor which might have encouraged Sunak to go for early elections is a series of big spending commitments which include a £10 billion compensation package for the victims of the infected blood scandal and money for those who suffered in the Post Office scandal. This would mean that there would not be much money left for an autumn budget and if the government doesn’t have much to spend before the election, there is no point in waiting.

“They have been clearing the decks with big spending plans, which means there won’t be any money left for an autumn statement. And if you haven’t got any money to give away before the election, what are you waiting for?” one Conservative insider was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

Another tactical reason for calling early polls could be to deny Reform UK, a right-wing populist party, the opportunity to eat into Tory votes.

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