When will the UK general election be?

Rishi Sunak has fired the starting gun on what looks set to be a long general election campaign.

In a desperate pitch to voters, with the Conservatives sitting 20 points behind Labour in the polls, the prime minister warned Britain is “at a crossroads”.

And he pitched himself as the man with the “bold ideas” to “create a more secure future for you and your family”.

Mr Sunak said he feels a “profound sense of urgency” about wanting to lead Britain through the challenges of the next five years.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to a branch of Timpson (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a visit to a branch of Timpson (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

But, having repeatedly refused to name the date of the general election, the PM’s sense of urgency does not seem as “profound” as he would have voters think.

Below, The Independent looks at when a general election might be.

When does the general election have to take place?

The latest possible date Mr Sunak could hold a general election is 28 January 2025.

But pollsters have warned an election in the depths of winter would infuriate voters, who could then go on to punish Mr Sunak.

For the same reason, the PM is unlikely to plump for a December general election for fear of disrupting Christmas festivities.

This has left October and November the most likely months for a general election to take place.

So which will it be?

The argument for a November has been made by senior Tories including the well-connected former chancellor George Osborne.

He told his Political Currency podcast 14 November “kind of writes itself”, with the PM using Tory conference in October as a launchpad for his general election campaign.

But experts have raised fears that a November contest would clash with the US presidential elections.

Meanwhile, The Independent has been told by senior No10 sources that the general election will be on October 10, which would throw both major party conferences into disarray.

When will we know?

Unlikely any time soon. Despite being mocked for “squatting in Downing Street” and even confronted by a horde of Labour staffers in chicken onesies, the PM has steadfastly refused to disclose when the contest will come.

Rishi Sunak was called a ‘chicken’ for refusing to hold a 2 May general election (AFP/Getty)
Rishi Sunak was called a ‘chicken’ for refusing to hold a 2 May general election (AFP/Getty)

“My working assumption is that there will be an election in the second half of the year,” is the furthest he will go.

Tory ministers have said the most likely time is this autumn, but the PM has also refused to rule out a summer general election.

It is an unlikely prospect, with Labour’s poll lead refusing to budge and the Conservatives suffering badly in the 2 May local elections.

The smart money remains on an election in October or November, with bookies’ pitting that date as the favourite.