If Rishi Sunak fails to call an election this afternoon, he could be copying ‘bottler’ Gordon Brown

Speculation is rife in Westminster as we await an unknown announcement from Downing Street at 5pm, writes John Rentoul

Wednesday 22 May 2024 14:30 BST
Will the prime minister call an early election?
Will the prime minister call an early election? (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak did not look at Prime Minister’s Questions like someone who was girding himself for the rigours of an election campaign – so why had he allowed speculation to run wild in Westminster?

The rumours that he was about to call a 4 July election started early this morning, and seemed to be prompted by an overnight briefing from No 10 that there would be a cabinet meeting this afternoon, instead of the usual time of Tuesday morning.

There was an obvious explanation for this, which was that Sunak was in Vienna on Tuesday morning for a 12-hour city break to see Karl Nehammer, the Austrian prime minister, who helpfully backed the Rwanda deportation policy.

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