British prime minister calls for surprise July 4 election in race conservatives forecast to lose

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer looked to be next British Prime Minister.

By Chris Benson
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to media as he prepares to leave the G20 Summit in Sept. 2023 in New Delhi, India. Sunak on Wednesday called for elections to be held on July 4. File Photo By Simon Walker/No. 10 Downing Street/UPI
1 of 2 | Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to media as he prepares to leave the G20 Summit in Sept. 2023 in New Delhi, India. Sunak on Wednesday called for elections to be held on July 4. File Photo By Simon Walker/No. 10 Downing Street/UPI | License Photo

May 22 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday called for a surprise July 4 election in a last-ditch effort to keep his Conservative Party in power after 14 years in a race indicators say will go to the Labour Party.

"I hope that my work since I became prime minister shows that we have a plan and are prepared to take bold action necessary for our country to flourish," the prime minister, 44, said outside 10 Downing St. in visible rain.


Public opinion polling has Sunak's Conservative Party trailing the Labour Party by 20 points. "Now I've stuck with that plan and always been honest with you about what is needed even when that's been difficult," Sunak said.

"Together we can stop the chaos, turn the page, and we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country," Keir Starmer, the liberal Labour Party leader who's widely looked at as being the next prime minister after July 4's election, said Wednesday.


The Thursday election on July 4, the date of American independence, will take place in all 650 of the island country's parliament constituencies in an election widely speculated to bounce from the conservative leadership of the last 14 years to the liberal Labour Party lead by Starmer, 61.

"A vote for Labour is a vote to turn the page" on all of what has happened in Britain over the last several years lead by the Conservative Party, Starmer said as he called to "rebuild Britain."

Before the prime minister's election call, a Labour Party spokesperson said they "have a fully organized and operational campaign ready to go" and that "we think the country is crying out for a general election, so I would urge the prime minister to get on with it."

But Sunak, who was required to hold an election by January 2025 and up until now indicated the likelihood of calling an election later this year, said he "cannot and will not claim that we have got everything right," as he pointed out Wednesday "no government could, but I am proud of what we have achieved together, the bold actions we have taken. I'm confident about what we can do in the future."


A 326 parliamentary seat majority is needed in order to form a new government prior to getting the symbolic royal assent by the monarch, King Charles III, 75, who met with Sunak earlier on Wednesday during a 15-minutes meeting at Buckingham Palace in London.

"Following the prime minister's statement this afternoon calling a general election, the Royal Family will -- in accordance with normal procedure -- postpone engagements that may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign," a palace spokesperson said.

Charles would be expected to give his nod of approval to who will end up being his third prime minister since taking the throne in 2022 at the death of his 96-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who likewise was Britain's longest-serving monarch at 70 years when she died after 15 British prime ministers lead government's in her name beginning in 1952 with Winston Churchill.

"Their majesties send their sincere apologies to any of those who may be affected as a result," Buckingham Palace said Wednesday.

The snap election call comes at a time of mixed news for the embattled British leader trying to keep the Conservative Tories in power, in addition to poor approval ratings in an election Sunak is not favored to win.


His decision comes days after it was reveled the British government "did not put patient safety first" while covering up a multi-decade tainted blood scandal, leading to 3,000 deaths and 30,000 HIV or hepatitis infections, a report published Monday found.

In April, Sunak went to Poland where he announced Britain's $617.8 million military aid package in the country's biggest ever for its besieged ally Ukraine that included some 400 vehicles, 1,600 strike and air defense missiles and 4 million ammunition rounds.

However, this month it was reported that the British economy had rebounded from recession to post 0.6% growth in its first quarter this year. Sunak said at the time the economy had "turned a corner" but acknowledged his government had more work to do. "We know things are still tough for many people, but the plan is working, and we must stick to it," the conservative prime minister said.

"It's time for change," said Starmer, who is widely expected to be the next prime minister once the July 4 election votes are counted, in a campaign video posted Wednesday on X during the day following Sunak's announcement.


"After 14 years under the Tories, nothing seems to work anymore" he said as he laid out his grievances against his conservative colleagues, adding that "the list goes on and on."

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