Why Did Rishi Sunak Call the UK Election Now?

Rishi Sunak has announced a general election for 4 July 2024. With most of the country under the impression this would happen later in the year, it had been assumed he would play the long game hoping for economic conditions and poll ratings to improve. His surprise move seems to have caught many in his own party off guard and has prompted speculation about the motivations behind his decision.

In this article, Brevia asks why now?

Economics

Despite facing significant challenges and trailing behind in the polls, Sunak seemingly judged that delaying the election further would not significantly improve his prospects. Sunak seized the moment after it was announced that inflation had fallen to its lowest rate in almost three years.[1] Sunak could be trying to capitalise on these positives in case any potential downturns could erode his standing further. The Tories can also point to stabilising food prices and energy bills and hope voters are starting to notice the impact of the double cut to national insurance.[2] Reports suggest that once it became clear further tax cuts in an Autumn fiscal statement were unaffordable the logic for waiting was reduced[3].

Rwanda

Another factor that might have been at play, is that the Government has passed the legislation required to send migrants to Rwanda. Flights, however, have not yet taken off with the first journeys expected in July. Further delays are possible and the Prime Minister has opted to avoid this embarrassment which would damage his standing further with more right-wing constituencies.[4] There is also the likelihood of increased crossings over the summer months, which can be avoided if the election is sooner.

Party Dynamics

There have been those pushing Rishi Sunak to go sooner, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden among them.[5] Moreover, reports suggest internal party dynamics and the threat of potential revolts in Parliament could have factored into the decision with suggestions that more Tories wanted him gone and they were getting close to a vote of no confidence. [6] Faced with mounting challenges and public scepticism, Sunak may have felt increasingly constrained. By calling the election now, Sunak may have sought to pre-emptively address these challenges, positioning himself to confront them within the electoral arena rather than within the confines of Parliament.

Other factors

Several other factors could have been considered. Even the good summer weather and the general feeling of patriotism that comes with the summer Euros football tournament.[7] The surprise election also reduces the amount of time the Reform Party has to prepare which helps nullify a threat to the Tories. Perhaps, with Sunak and his wife’s personal fortune increasing from £120 million to £651 million, Sunak could have considered that there might be a brighter future for him elsewhere.[8]

Looking Ahead

As the country braces for a contentious electoral contest, the stakes could not be higher for Sunak and this is a risky strategy. The Tories are around 20 points behind the opposition Labour Party in the polls.[9] However, faced with running a defensive strategy, the element of surprise could work in their favour as it seems Sunak has decided things won’t be better than they will in July. As the nation braces for an electoral showdown, we will see if Sunak’s gamble will pay off.

BREVIA CONSULTING PROVIDES STRAIGHTFORWARD POLITICAL ADVICE AND SUPPORT TO BUSINESSES AND ORGANISATIONS

Discover how Brevia can help you and your organisation by contacting the Brevia Team on 020 7091 1650 or contact@brevia.co.uk

[1] BBC News, ‘UK inflation rate falls to lowest in almost three years’, May 2024, Link

[2] POLITICO, ‘UK election: Why Rishi Sunak pulled the trigger, May 2024’, Link

[3] Sky News, ‘Sunak has gambled on election date knowing success under any definition is hard’, May 2024, Link

[4] Sky News, ‘Sunak has gambled on election date knowing success under any definition is hard’, May 2024, Link

[5] BBC News, ‘Chris Mason: Why did Sunak decide to call summer election? – BBC News, May 2024, Link

[6] Sky News, ‘Sunak has gambled on election date knowing success under any definition is hard’, May 2024, Link

[7] POLITICO, ‘UK election: Why Rishi Sunak pulled the trigger, May 2024’, Link

[8] POLITICO, ‘UK election: Why Rishi Sunak pulled the trigger, May 2024’, Link

[9] POLITICO, ‘UK election: Why Rishi Sunak pulled the trigger, May 2024’, Link

 

LATEST NEWS

Health

Health Priorities in the Liberal Democrats’ Election Manifesto

On 10 June 2024, the Liberal Democrats became the first of the major political parties in the UK to launch their election manifesto. The manifesto emphasised their approach to health and social care, advocating for significant reform to ensure an equal and high-quality healthcare system for all.

Read More »
[gravityform id="1" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]