Could Rishi Sunak gamble on a spring election?

With a recession still possible, the prime minister might be tempted by an autumn election, says Sean O’Grady. But might he gamble on a quicker turnaround?

Tuesday 02 January 2024 20:24 GMT
Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are already in campaign mode
Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are already in campaign mode (PA)

This looks certain to be an election year and, on current polling, it looks highly likely there’ll be a change of government. But to the extent prime ministers are in charge of their own destinies, the timing of the election is a key decision for Rishi Sunak. And for his party it could be the difference between humiliation or total wipeout, thus deciding the shape of a future comeback.

When will the election be?

There are plenty of answers to that question. The most important factor is prime ministerial judgement. Since the repeal of the 2011 Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the prerogative once again lies with the prime minister advising the sovereign to dissolve parliament; no Commons approval is required. So the short answer will be “when Mr Sunak thinks he has the best chance of winning it”. That will mainly be based on the progress of the economy.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in