No general election in May, says Hands

But expectations have been raised of a May election ahead of mooted tax cuts in Wednesday’s budget and the potential deportation flights to Rwanda could take off within weeks…reports Asian Lite News

A Tory Minister has appeared to rule out a May general election, suggesting voters will go to the polls this autumn. With Rishi Sunak’s party lagging Labour in the polls by 20 points, Greg Hands said the contest will be “later this year”.

The trade minister was asked about mounting speculation the PM could call a snap election in May, to coincide with local elections around the country, but ruled the prospect out.

At the same time, Labour’s shadow paymaster general was making a bet with Sky News presenter Kay Burley that the contest would be in May.

Jonathan Ashworth said: “After 14 years of the Tories… I think the British people will say it’s time for a change and will want to get rid of the Tories.

“And by the way, this election is coming in May. I think it is definitely coming in May… the Conservatives are planning for that.”

Ashworth accepted a £10 bet for a children of alcoholics charity and called on Mr Sunak to “name that date”.  Sunak has previously said his “working assumption” is that he will call the election in the second half of this year, but has refused to set out a date.

But expectations have been raised of a May election ahead of mooted tax cuts in Wednesday’s budget and the potential deportation flights to Rwanda could take off within weeks.

There are also growing fears Sunak faces a tough set of results at the May local elections, which could destabilise his leadership. And some suggest the government could opt for a May election to limit the damage to the Conservatives, with no evidence the party can expect a turnaround in the polls.

Former Tory leader Lord Hague urged the PM to “keep his options open” on the timing of the election, but added that it is “much more likely” to come late this year. Sunak’s deadline to dissolve parliament in time for a 7 May election is 26 March. It comes after a shock survey on Monday revealed the party is on course for one of its worst election defeats in history.

It showed for the Conservative Party has plunged to the lowest level since 1978 with just a fifth of British voters now backing Sunak’s party.

The Tories were 27 points behind Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, which would spell electoral oblivion for Sunak’s party if replicated at a general election.

The Ipsos poll, published on Monday, shows Mr Sunak could hold on to as few as 25 seats – 351 fewer than Boris Johnson won in 2019 – in what would be a historic defeat.

It also predicts Sir Keir could secure as many as 537 seats – 340 more than Jeremy Corbyn managed at the last election and equating to a landslide which would eclipse Sir Tony Blair’s 1997 win.

The survey showed support for the Tories at just 20 per cent, the lowest since 1978 when Ipsos started tracking the poll. Ipsos is a multinational market research firm and the poll is the latest in its monthly independent Political Monitor.

In the latest survey, Labour’s support has dropped to 47 per cent from the 49 per cent it had in January. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats were backed by 9 per cent of the electorate, while support for both the Green Party and Reform UK was at 8 per cent – double what it was in January.

Ipsos’s previous lowest score for the Conservatives was 22 per cent, recorded by John Major in December 1994 and May 1995, only a few years before Sir Tony’s election win.

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