RISHI Sunak has appeared to rule out a General Election in May, instead suggesting that the Westminster ballot will be held in the "second half" of this year.

The Prime Minister has been coming under growing pressure to set a date for the next UK-wide vote from opposition parties. 

Sunak, during a visit to Mansfield, East Midlands, on Thursday, declined to categorically rule out a May election but said he was working towards one in the later months of 2024.

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A Westminster election has to be held by January 2025 at the latest. 

Asked by ITV if a spring election was on the cards, the Prime Minister said: "My working assumption is we'll have a general election in the second half of this year and in the meantime I’ve got lots that I want to get on with."

It comes after growing speculation that the PM would call a UK-wide election this year, with opposition politicians urging the Tory leader to call it sooner rather than later.

Labour claimed a spring ballot is the "worst kept secret in Parliament", while the LibDems urged Sunak to hold the vote in May rather than trying to "cling on" to power for the rest of the year.

The National:

During a visit to a youth centre, Sunak said: "I've got lots that I want to get on with."

He added: "I want to keep going, managing the economy well and cutting people's taxes.

"But I also want to keep tackling illegal migration.

"So I've got lots to get on with and I'm determined to keep delivering for the British people."

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SNP Westminster group leader Stephen Flynn said in response to the PM's comments on timing:  “The Tories haven’t won an election in Scotland since 1955 so irrespective of whether it’s an election in May, or in the autumn, we already know that they won’t win here.

“The battle in Scotland will be fought on who the public believe is best placed to stand up for their interests and their values in Westminster.

“As the only party who believe that economic growth can be achieved by trading with our European allies, embracing freedom of movement and investing in our energy potential the SNP will proudly stand on the basis of our values.

“Independence offers us the best route to achieve those economic aims, take real action to resolve the cost of living and to protect our NHS – and only a vote for the SNP can make that future possible.”

In response, Keir Starmer (below) has demanded Sunak set a date for the election rather than “squatting” in No 10.

In an interview with BBC News, the UK Labour leader said: “We are ready for a general election. I think the country is ready for a general election.

“The Prime Minister has hinted without setting a date that it might be later this year. Why can’t he set a date? Him squatting in Downing Street for months on end, dithering and delaying while the country wants change.”

The National:

UK LibDem leader Ed Davey accused “squatter” Sunak of having “bottled it” after he appeared to rule out a May election.

Davey said: “Rishi Sunak has bottled it and is running scared of a May general election.

“Squatter Sunak is holed up in Downing Street, desperately clinging on to power rather than facing the verdict of the British people.

“We need an election in spring, so that voters can finally get rid of this appalling and out-of-touch Conservative government.”