Is Rishi Sunak about to call a general election – and when is the latest it could be?

Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out a snap general election as his government is buoyed by a positive downturn in the rate of inflation.

The prime minister said the fall in inflation, from 3.2 per cent to 2.3, shows there are “brighter days” ahead for the UK. This figure is the closest to the Bank of England’s 2 per cent inflation target since the prime minister took office in late 2022.

Speculation is now rife in Westminster that Mr Sunak may call a snap general election soon, bolstered by the positive economic turn.

So far, the prime minister has resisted calls to call an election, despite constant pressure from the Labour Party to do so.

However, Mr Sunak has previously promised that the country would go to the polls in the second half of this year.

It is likely the prime minister has been waiting for the opportune time to call an election, as his party lags behind in the polls. Boosted by economic good fortune, the time may now be soon.

Below, The Independent looks at when a general election might be.

The prime minister has been urged to call an election date for months (PA Wire)
The prime minister has been urged to call an election date for months (PA Wire)

When does the general election have to take place?

The latest possible date Mr Sunak could hold a general election is 28 January 2025.

But pollsters have warned an election in the depths of winter would infuriate voters, who could then go on to punish him at the polls.

For the same reason, the PM is unlikely to plump for a December general election for fear of disrupting Christmas festivities.

This has left October and November the most likely months for a general election to take place, if it does not happen before the summer holidays.

So which will it be?

The argument for a November has been made by senior Tories including the well-connected former chancellor George Osborne.

He told his Political Currency podcast 14 November “kind of writes itself”, with the PM using Tory conference in October as a launchpad for his general election campaign.

But experts have raised fears that a November contest would clash with the US presidential elections.

The Independent has previously been told by senior No10 sources that the general election will be on 10 October, which would throw both major party conferences into disarray.

Mr Sunak was called a ‘chicken’ for refusing to hold a 2 May general election (AFP/Getty)
Mr Sunak was called a ‘chicken’ for refusing to hold a 2 May general election (AFP/Getty)

When will we know?

Despite being mocked for “squatting in Downing Street” and even confronted by a horde of Labour staffers in chicken onesies, the PM has steadfastly refused to disclose when the contest will come.

“My working assumption is that there will be an election in the second half of the year,” is the furthest he will go.

Tory ministers have said the most likely time is this autumn, but the PM has also refused to rule out a summer general election.

It is an unlikely prospect, with Labour’s poll lead refusing to budge and the Conservatives suffering badly in the 2 May local elections.

The smart money remains on an election in October or November, with bookies’ pitting that date as the favourite.