Rishi Sunak confirms election will be next year, despite legal right to wait until January 2025

Rishi Sunak has confirmed this evening that a general election will be held next year in 2024, despite speculation that the prime minister could hold off until January 2025. 

Under the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, January 2025 is the latest the prime minister could hold an election according to law. 

According to the Act, if an election was not called by 17 December 2024, parliament would automatically dissolve and the election would take place 25 working days later.

The 17 December 2024 is exactly five years since parliament first met after the last general election, held in 2019.

Under these circumstances, now ruled out by the prime minister, this means the latest date for the next general election is 28 January 2025.

Speaking to lobby journalists at a press gallery drinks reception in No 10 Downing Street, Rishi Sunak confirmed an election “will” be held next year. 

It rules out the January “very long” option for Sunak, which had been suggested as a last resort for the prime minister. 

So (very) ‘long’, prime minister: a January 2025 election has never looked more likely

It raises the possibility that Sunak could call an election while still far behind in the polls. 

However, the PM’s statement this evening still leaves open a range of possibilities when it comes to election timing.

One of the scenarios that is most frequently referenced is a Spring election, which would see the prime minister go to the electorate some distance earlier than he is required by law. 

Another, potentially more likely scenario if the polls continue to prove inflexible over the coming year, is that the prime minister will call an election in autumn 2024. 

Commenting recently on his plans for the next election, Rishi Sunak told the Spectator: “The choice at the next election is between me and Keir Starmer. A Labour party that wants to borrow £28 billion a year is not going to control welfare or public spending. A Conservative party is going to do those things – and cut your taxes instead”.

How Rishi Sunak could fight a ‘stop the boats election’

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