Rishi Sunak does not rule out July general election - but insists 'there'll be a clear choice' when it comes

Rishi Sunak has failed to rule out holding a general election in July, as speculation remains rife over the timing of the national vote.

The prime minister has repeatedly said his "working assumption" is the election would take place in the second half of this year - with the law stating January 2025 is the latest he could call it.

But while many commentators have predicted an autumn vote, Sky News' Trevor Phillips put to Mr Sunak that it could mean as early as July.

"Well, look, when it comes to a general election, I've been very clear about that multiple times," the prime minister said.

"And again, I'm not going to say anything more than I've already said, I've been very clear about that."

In his interview Phillips pushed Mr Sunak five times over whether he would rule out a July general election, but the Conservative leader refused to confirm or deny if it could take place then.

"You're going to try and draw whatever conclusion you want from what I say," he said. "I'm going to always try and say the same thing. You should just listen to what I said, [the] same thing I've said all year.

"But the point is... there's a choice when it comes to the general election. And look, over the past week or so... the country can have a very clear sense of what that difference is going to look like."

Mr Sunak refused to be drawn on whether he would have any regrets if he loses the next general election.

"You're again focused on all this personality stuff. I'm focused on delivering for the country," he said.

"What I'm doing is getting up every single day and working my hardest to deliver for people on the things that matter to them and matter to me."

Outlining his recent commitments to overhauling the welfare system, cutting taxes and increasing defence spending, as well as finally getting his Rwanda bill through parliament in an effort to tackle small boat crossings, Mr Sunak said: "That is the substance of what this government is about and what it's going to do in the future.

"And when the election comes, there'll be a clear choice, because the Labour Party has tried to frustrate our Rwanda bill, because they don't believe in stopping the boats, their economic plan will put people's taxes up.

"They haven't said that they will invest more in our defence and they certainly don’t agree with reforming our welfare system to support people into work."

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Labour has said it wants to match the hike in defence spending when the financial circumstances allow, and has promised to scrap the Rwanda bill if it gets into power.

This week, its pre-election focus has been on railways, promising to renationalise train operators and "sweep away" the current "broken" model if the party wins the next election.