Sunak Says UK Election Probably Next Year, Making 2025 Unlikely

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the UK will probably hold a general election next year, suggesting he’s unlikely to let the Conservative Party’s term in office run to its limit.

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In a dialog on artificial intelligence with the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, Sunak addressed a question on false images from an audience member, saying that he himself had been a victim of a doctored image. With major countries holding elections in 2024, that will become an issue for the first time, he said.

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Next year, there are elections in “the US, India, I think Indonesia, probably here: there you go,” Sunak said in the conversation, aired on Musk’s social media platform X, formerly Twitter. “You’ve got just an enormous chunk of the world’s population is voting next year. You’ve got EU elections as well.”

Sunak’s electoral hint drew laughter from the audience of executives, though in practice a vote has for months been expected to be held in the fall of 2024. But in theory, he could leave it as late as the end of January 2025, an option that might come into play if his Conservative Party fails to close its polling deficit behind Labour — which has been about 20 points in recent surveys.

The question, from an Adobe employee, was directed at Musk, asking about digitally signing media to distinguish between pictures created by AI and those taken by a camera. Musk said “that sounds like a great idea, we should probably do it.”

Sunak said the risks of fake images were real for politicians, because they go “everywhere, negative, by the time everyone realizes well that’s fake, and we should stop sending it, the damage is done.”

“Figuring out how we manage that is mission critical for people who want the integrity of our democracy,” Sunak said. “These issues are right in front of us; next year [has] big elections across the globe, probably the first set of elections where this has been a real issue.”

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