Why is British PM Rishi Sunak calling a general election now and what will happen next?

Sunak granted permission to dissolve parliament from King Charles with campaigning to take place over coming weeks up to July 4th

When will the general election take place?

British prime minister Rishi Sunak has called a UK general election for July 4th – a Thursday as is traditional. This is just inside the second half of the year, as he promised. However, the timing is not ideal for voters in some parts of the country, including Scotland and Northern Ireland, where school holidays will have already started and many people may be on holiday.

Why is he calling it now?

Mr Sunak has been saying for some weeks that there was evidence that the economy was improving. He may argue that he needs a mandate to get through his priorities, including the Rwanda deportation flights scheme. However, the opposition is likely to argue he is calling one now because the economy is stalling, and things are unlikely to look better for the Conservatives in the autumn – with small boat crossings expected to continue despite any flights taking off to Rwanda, and very limited room for tax cuts.

What happens next?

Mr Sunak has been granted permission from King Charles for the dissolution of parliament. The ability to call elections returned to royal prerogative after the period from 2011 to 2022 when MPs voted on calling an early election.

What happens to parliament?

There are usually several days after an election being called and parliament being dissolved, or prorogued before dissolution. Any last bits of legislation will have to be passed in those days, with Bills that do not make it getting abandoned as they cannot be carried over.


What happens to MPs?

After parliament is dissolved, MPs will return to their constituencies to begin campaigning: they will no longer be MPs but parliamentary candidates. However, government ministers still hold their posts and responsibilities. Government activity is restricted, though, during the campaign, so that public money is not spent on political purposes.

How long will the campaign be?

The next six or so weeks will see Sunak, Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats leader, Richard Tice, the Reform leader, Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay, the Green Party leaders, and others touring the country making their case to be the UK’s next prime minister. They are likely to hold political rallies, climb aboard battlebuses, and give dozens of stump speeches across the country.

When will the manifestos be launched?

The parties tend to publish their document setting out their policies about three to four weeks before polling day, to ensure they are fresh in voters’ minds before the contest.

Will there be TV debates?

Mr Sunak and Mr Starmer are expected to go head to head but they are likely to want to squeeze out the smaller parties and make it a two-way contest between them. In previous years, the Conservatives and Labour have sent deputies in their place when other parties are involved.

What happens on polling day?

The polls open at 7am and close at 10pm on polling day. At the close of the polls, an exit poll is published which tends to correctly predict the result. The results from each constituency start to emerge throughout the night. By the morning, it tends to be clear who the winner is, with the prime minister either resigning or staying in office that morning. – Guardian