Rishi Sunak calls general election for 4 July – as it happened

The prime minister has this afternoon called a general election for 4 July.

It comes after a day of feverish speculation at Westminster.

Speaking at prime minister’s questions this afternoon, Sunak refused to quash the rumours when asked directly by SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, referring instead to his stock answer that an election will take place in “the second half of the year”.

July, many had noted, falls in the second half of the year. 

Then, speaking to political journalists at lunchtime, the PM’s spokespeople refused to rule out a general election being called today, despite furious questioning by journalists.

It came as two cabinet ministers cut short foreign trips to attend an impromptu cabinet meeting, scheduled for 4.15 pm. Foreign secretary Lord Cameron is jetting back from Albania, while defence secretary Grant Shapps has terminated his trip to Lithuania ahead of time. 

Meanwhile, chancellor Jeremy Hunt had pulled out of a planned pre-recorded interview on ITV’s Peston show.

05.19 pm

🚨 BREAK: Rishi Sunak calls general election for July 4th.

04.41 pm —

04.34 pm — An election awaits…

The official announcement from prime minister Rishi Sunak is expected to come at 5 pm. 

04.28 pm

04.22 pm — It’s happening…

04.20 pm

04.16 pm

🚨 BREAK: The Guardian reports that the PM will call an election for July.

“Rishi Sunak will call general election for July in surprise move – sources”

04.09 pm

Defence secretary Grant Shapps, chief secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott, energy secretary Claire Coutinho, work and pensions secretary Mel Stride, health secretary Victoria Atkins and Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris are all in No 10 for the cabinet meeting set to kick-off at 4.15 pm 

03.55 pm

03.50 pm

03.45 pm

Good afternoon and welcome back to “Politics Live”, Politics.co.uk‘s rolling coverage of the day’s key moments in Westminster and beyond. Here you can keep up to date with today’s major parliamentary debates, press conferences and news events in real time.

Stay with us and we’ll bring you all the latest developments as they unfold.