Billionaire UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called a surprise election to be held more than six months before the required deadline, setting the scene for an electoral wipe-out and likely end to 14 years of Conservative Party rule.

Despite being well down in the polls, Sunak has called the general election for July 4 — also the day the US celebrates its independence from Britain — pulling the trigger on a rare summer election campaign.

Sunak’s Conservatives are down 20 points or more in many polls — a YouGov poll last week gave Keir Starmer’s Labour Party a 27 percentage point lead — with the election widely tipped to see the end of Tory rule, with the Conservatives in power since 2010.

According to the The Economist’s seat projection model Sunak currently has a 1% chance of winning, with a Labour victory “extremely likely”.

Regardless of the outcome, the poll will see an overhaul of the British parliament, with more than 60 Tory MPs previously stating they will depart at the next election, including former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Standing in the rain outside Number 10 Downing Street, Sunak told reporters he had spoken with King Charles “to request the dissolution of parliament”.

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

He indicated the Conservatives would seek to fight the election on “national security” and immigration.

“This election will take place at a time that the world is more dangerous than it has been since the Cold War,” Sunak said.

Sunak cited Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine; “Islamic extremism” that he said “threaten regional, and ultimately global security”; and said migration was “being weaponised by hostile states to threaten the integrity of our borders”.

“China is looking to dominate the 21st century by stealing a lead in technology,” he said.

“Russia is waging a brutal war in Ukraine,and will not stop there is he succeeds”.

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Sunak calling the election outside 10 Downing Street. Source: ABC News


Opposition leader Starmer responded in a video posted to social media stating “it is time for change” with “families weighed down by higher mortgage rates” and “anti-social behaviour on our streets”.

Britain was a “great and proud country but after “14 years under the Tories nothing seems to work anymore”, Starmer said.

UK general elections must be held every five years and Sunak had until January 28 to hold the poll.

Sunak’s announcement reportedly caught Westminster by surprise, with Foreign Secretary (and former Prime Minister) David Cameron called back from overseas trip to Albania.

It has been speculated Sunak called the early poll because recent inflation figures had fallen less than expected, suggesting interest rate cuts his government had hoped for were now unlikely to happen.

Bloomberg political columnist Adrian Wooldridge said there was “no obvious trigger” for the decision but the inflation figures “may have reduced any last hope that the Bank of England would start cutting interest rates as soon as June”.

“But Sunak may simply have recognised what most of us have long ago acknowledged: That there is no point in staggering on,” Wooldridge writes.

“Why suffer the humiliation of seeing yet more MPs defecting to the other side? Or of yet more well-known MPs announcing that they will step down

at the next election? Or of more embarrassing revelations about MPs’ weird conduct?”

The Conservatives came to power in 2010, with David Cameron replacing Labour’s Gordon Brown.

Cameron was Prime Minister until 2016 when he was replaced by Theresa May, who in 2019 was replaced by Boris Johnson, a former mayor of London.

Johnson’s term was riddled with scandals, culminating with revelations he held parties during Covid-19 lockdowns, ultimately ending his leadership in September 2022.

Lizz Truss replaced Johnson but was Prime Minister for just 49 days before her reign spectacularly imploded, including over a train wreck mini-budget that slashed business taxes and removed barriers on banker bonuses while much of the nation was reeling under cost of living pressures.

Sunak, 44, has been noted for his vast private wealth.

Last week the Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rishi and his wife Akshata Murty’s net personal wealth at £651 million ($1.25 billion).

That was up from £529 million ($1.02bn) the year before — slightly higher than King Charles’ estimated personal fortune of £610m pounds ($1.17bn) — and mainly due to Murty’s shares in Indian IT giant Infosys, founded by her father.

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