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Pressure on Rishi Sunak as nearly half of voters want May election, poll reveals

Exclusive: Four in ten voters want prime minister to call a snap election

Archie Mitchell
Wednesday 13 March 2024 19:35 GMT
Rishi Sunak refuses to rule out May 2024 general election

Rishi Sunak is under mounting pressure to call a snap general election after a poll showed nearly half of the public want a May contest.

The prime minister has refused to say when the next election will take place, only suggesting that it will be in the second half of 2024.

But a poll by More in Common, seen by The Independent, showed four in ten voters want an election to take place within weeks.

Fewer than 30 per cent of voters want the prime minister to wait until November, when many expect the vote to take place. Former chancellor George Osborne has predicted the election will be on 14 November.

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to call a general election in May (PA Wire)

The PM has pointedly refused to rule out going to the polls sooner, and could call a snap election to coincide with local elections on 2 May. The last day to do this is 26 March, as polling day is 25 working days after parliament is dissolved.

Asked about the prospect by Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 last week, Mr Sunak answered: “I’m not going to say anything about that. What matters is the choice at that election.”

Labour says it is preparing for a May election and ordered shadow ministers to submit policies for the party’s manifesto by February.

Shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth this month bet Sky News presenter Kay Burley that the contest would be in May.

He 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.”

Mr Ashworth accepted a £10 bet for a children of alcoholics charity and called on Mr Sunak to “name that date”.

And data showing the Conservatives have ramped up their spending on Facebook adverts by 1,700 per cent has added to speculation of an earlier election.

Figures show that £697,709 has been splashed on ads in the first three months of this year, compared to just £41,774 in the same period last year, according to tracking website Who Targets Me.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s 2p national insurance giveaway also added to expectations of a May vote, with the change taking effect from April.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has repeatedly called for an immediate general election (Ian West/PA Wire)

But after the move failed to give the Tories a boost in the polls, Mr Sunak appears less likely to call an immediate contest.

The More in Common poll showed those who backed the Tories in 2019 are more likely to want to wait until the autumn for an election. But Labour 2019 voters are much more likely to want Mr Sunak to call one now.

A recent poll showed support for the Conservatives has plunged to the lowest level since 1978 with just a fifth of British voters now backing Rishi Sunak’s party.

The bombshell survey, showing the Conservatives as 27 points behind Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, would spell electoral oblivion for Mr Sunak if replicated at a general election.

The Ipsos poll, published on Monday, shows Mr Sunak could hold on to as few as 25 seats – 340 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 – 335 more than Jeremy Corbyn managed at the last election and equating to a landslide which would eclipse Sir Tony Blair’s 1997 win.

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