General Election 'This Autumn' As Public Not Yet 'Due' A Vote, Says Tory Minister

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom Sky News

A Tory minister has defended Rishi Sunak’s decision not to call a general election on May 2 as the public is not yet “due” a vote.

The prime minister has been accused of running “scared” after he ruled out going to the country on the same day as the local elections this spring.

Speaking to Sky News, health minister Andrea Leadsom said: “There isn’t an election due.

“The prime minister was very clear from the start of the year he expects a general election - the working assumption is - that it’ll be this autumn and that hasn’t changed.”

“We have periodic general elections and the prime minister has set out an autumn timeframe.”

Leadsom added: “You don’t call a general election just because there is a particular mood or a particular situation. That very rarely happens.”

She said it was “much better for the country, for the economic cycle, for the government’s programme” that the election be delayed.

The mood in the Conservative party is bleak, with polls suggesting Labour is on course to win a sizeable majority.

Sunak last night addressed Tory MPs at the meeting of the backbench 1922 committee, where he told the them to “unite or die” amid renewed specualtion he could face a leadership challenge.

According to The Times, the PM hit out at a “very small minority” of MPs trying to destabilise his leadership.

The prime minister yesterday repeated that his “working assumption” was the election will be in the “second half of the year”.

During PMQs, Keir Starmer told Sunak to “pack up, go home and waste somebody’s else’s time”.

“Why is the PM so scared to call an election?” the Labour leader said. “He’s so diminished his entire focus is stopping his MPs holding the sword of Damocles over his head.”

Sunak has until January 2025 to hold the election, but it is widely assumed he will go to the country in October or November.

And Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, on Tuesday dropped a strong hint October was the target date.