Labour accuse Sunak of ‘hiding away in his mansion’

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak meeting veterans at a community breakfast in his constituency on Saturday - Oli Scarff

Labour accused Rishi Sunak of “hiding away in his mansion” on Saturday after the Prime Minister returned to his constituency, where he met with local veterans in his constituency.

It came as former prime minister Liz Truss said in an interview with The Telegraph that Mr Sunak should scrap all net zero targets in order to win the election.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general, said: “While Rishi Sunak spends today hiding away in his mansion, Liz Truss is yet again reminding voters that he has no control over his party and desperate Jeremy Hunt is making more completely unfunded promises.

“Five more years of the Tories will mean more of this chaos - with the British public left paying the price every single day.”

The Tories dismissed the idea Mr Sunak was not on the campaign trail and pointed to his meeting with veterans on Saturday morning.

The Prime Minister returned to London by Saturday afternoon and joined Tory activists on the doorstep in Wimbledon.

Follow the latest updates below and join in the conversation in the comments

05:49 PM BST

That’s all for today...

Thank you for joining our coverage of another eventful day on the 2024 general election campaign trail.

My colleague Genevieve Holl-Allen will be back early tomorrow to guide you through the latest.

05:43 PM BST

Starmer: It was clear people in Stafford want change

05:41 PM BST

‘The Tories have lost the one man who knew how to defeat the Blob’

Public life is weakened by Michael Gove’s leaving it, writes Simon Heffer.

He has his faults, as do we all, but he is immensely able, and ability will be in short supply after the election. I must declare an interest: I have known him for 30 years, and we are friends. We have had disagreements; but he is one of the most considerable figures of this era of Conservative-led rule.

When in 2010 he became education secretary, he proved his effectiveness in driving through reforms that revived traditional learning and teaching methods.

Michael Gove
Michael Gove

This led to higher standards. The Programme for International Student Assessment, which evaluates 15-year-old students, showed him that the best performing countries had rigorous accountability, allowed head teachers greater ease to hire and fire, an “aspirational” core curriculum and emphasis on success.

In 2012, England was below Vietnam, Taiwan and South Korea. By 2022 England’s mean Pisa score of 492 in maths beat an OECD average of 472. In that subject – vital for the country’s future – England came 11th out of 81, up from 17th in 2018.

Simon Heffer: It is sad Gove wasn’t given another big department to transform

05:20 PM BST

‘Anti-Semitic’ sign carried by far-left activists at union conference

Hard-Left activists brandished a placard bearing a controversial slogan many consider to be anti-Semitic outside a trade union conference this week.

A group thought to be members of the Broad Left Network (BLN), a socialist faction of the Public and Commercial Services Union, were photographed with a sign that read “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

The Telegraph has obtained screenshots of a BLN group chat in which trade union delegates accuse Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing”.

While discussing a motion about the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict, one member of the group wrote: “I hope we can have dialogue with the peace movement in Israel, such as it is, while being unequivocal in our opposition to Israel being an apartheid state with ethnic cleansing going back to the Nakba.”

Read the full story here

05:02 PM BST

Gas bills could rise by £1,000 to pay for wind power

Gas bills are projected to rise by around £1,000 to pay for wind power under official plans currently being considered by the Energy Secretary.

Claire Coutinho received a report earlier this year that suggested moving some or all green levies from household electricity bills to gas bills, or shifting them into general taxation.

Both proposals, presented by officials at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), have been put forward amid concerns that the weight of green levies on household costs is stifling progress on net zero.

But they could prove controversial because of the likely costs to households relying on gas, as well as it being seen as fairer to apply levies to electricity bills.

04:47 PM BST

Farage: ‘This is the dullest general election in history’

This from Reform’s honorary life president, who confirmed earlier in the week he would not stand for election or return to lead the party:

04:46 PM BST

Lib Dems target Tory seats by highlighting taxes on pensioners

The Liberal Democrats have their sights set on snatching a string of coastal seats from the Conservatives by highlighting stealth taxes on pensioners.

Sir Ed Davey’s party is targeting older voters in seats where the number of pensioners being sucked into paying income tax is higher than the Tory majority.

Sir Ed Davey
Sir Ed Davey during a dog walk with supporters near Winchester - Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

At the Autumn Statement in 2022, the Government froze the level at which a person starts to pay income tax at £12,570 until 2027-28 – dragging more people into having to pay the tax every year.

The decision means that 1.6 million more pensioners will be paying income tax by 2027-28 than would have done if the threshold for paying it had risen along with inflation since 2021-22. The freeze will lead to an average hit of £530 a year for tax-paying pensioners.

Will Hazell has the full story here

04:37 PM BST

‘Tory negativity will not win the election – but it might close the gap’

All the Conservative Party will offer in this campaign is a remorseless diet of brutal negativity for six weeks. It will make for a depressing spectacle but there is no alternative, writes James Frayne.

They are trailing by 20 points, their party brand is worthless and their leader has been widely written off as a lightweight with no leadership abilities.

Meanwhile, on their watch, many find it impossible to get a GP appointment, people have been battered for months by high inflation, legal immigration has rocketed and small boats arrive endlessly.

They have no record and selling a positive vision for a happy future will not work. They will surely just pile into Sir Keir Starmer.

Sir Keir is a mainstream politician and an obviously decent man. But politics is a rough old business and he will be ready for the onslaught. Where will the Conservatives start?

James Frayne: Expect to hear more from Sunak on the ‘same old Labour Party’

03:59 PM BST

Liberal Democrats’ Tim Farron: It’s time to abolish water regulator

03:43 PM BST

Labour voters should be careful what they wish for, says top Tory donor

The billionaire Tory donor Lord Spencer has handed £250,000 to Rishi Sunak’s election campaign as the City gears up for the battle over No 10.

Financier Lord Spencer, dubbed the most successful treasurer in Conservative Party history after he raised tens of millions for the Tories from 2006 to 2010, has kicked off a charm offensive ahead of the July 4 election as the City readies for a possible Labour government.

Speaking from his ranch in Kenya, where he breeds critically endangered black rhinos, the tycoon – who made a fortune founding broker-dealer ICAP – says he has just given £250,000 to the Conservatives and now plans to “encourage all my business contacts to stick with the current government as a better choice than Labour” amid dire polling.

The donation, his largest since 2019, comes as analysis shows that no incumbent party has voluntarily entered an election campaign with worse polling.

Lucy Burton, The Telegraph’s Employment Editor, has this interview

03:12 PM BST

Labour’s private school VAT raid may trigger exodus that swamps state sector

Labour’s VAT raid on private schools could cause an exodus of pupils that would swamp state schools in some parts of the country, analysis suggests.

The high concentration of private schools in certain local authority areas means that if even a relatively small proportion of pupils left because their parents could no longer afford the fees, they would struggle to find a place in desirable state schools because so many are already oversubscribed.

It comes after Sir Keir Starmer promised to roll out the tax raid on private schools “straight away” if Labour wins the election, causing panic among parents, some of whom have already withdrawn their children.

The party claims the policy to add 20 per cent to fees would raise £1.7 billion.

However, independent school leaders dispute the figure and say the tax would end up harming all schools and forcing many to close.

Henry Bodkin and Ben Butcher have more here

02:53 PM BST

Swinney hopes SNP’s chances won’t melt away

John Swinney visits Burntisland in Fife, Scotland
John Swinney visits Burntisland in Fife, Scotland

John Swinney, the SNP leader, was pictured enjoying an ice cream on a campaign visit to Burntisland in Fife, Scotland.

Mr Swinney became Scotland’s First Minister earlier this month after persuading rival Kate Forbes he will “return the SNP to governing from the mainstream” in the wake of the spectacular implosion of Humza Yousaf’s premiership.

After a stint as SNP leader between 2000 and 2004, when the party was in opposition, Mr Swinney was ousted following poor election results. He was later deputy first minister in Ms Sturgeon’s government.

He will hope to stem the tide of projected SNP losses to Labour and admitted during his leadership campaign that his party was “not as cohesive as it needs to be”.

02:39 PM BST

Sunak out on the doorsteps in Wimbledon after returning to London

02:26 PM BST

Rishi Sunak insists Lord Frost could stand for Tories in general election

Rishi Sunak has given the green light for Lord Frost to stand as a Tory MP after denying that he had been barred from being a candidate, writes our Chief Political Correspondent Nick Gutteridge.

The Prime Minister denied claims that the former Brexit negotiator, who has been a fierce critic, had been told he could not apply for any of the 93 vacant constituencies.

Mr Sunak told GB News: “David Frost has not been blocked from standing as a candidate at the election in July. That is just not right.

“The process only opened on Wednesday night and it takes time for the process to conclude for candidates selection. It is not true to say he has been blocked.”

02:17 PM BST

Labour accuses Sunak of ‘hiding away in his mansion’ despite meeting veterans

Labour accused Rishi Sunak of “hiding away in his mansion” on Saturday after the Prime Minister returned to his constituency, where he met with local veterans in his constituency.

It came as former prime minister Liz Truss said in an interview with The Telegraph that Mr Sunak should scrap all net zero targets in order to win the election.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general, said: “While Rishi Sunak spends today hiding away in his mansion, Liz Truss is yet again reminding voters that he has no control over his party and desperate Jeremy Hunt is making more completely unfunded promises.

“Five more years of the Tories will mean more of this chaos - with the British public left paying the price every single day.”

The Tories dismissed the idea Mr Sunak was not on the campaign trail and pointed to his meeting with veterans on Saturday morning.

02:04 PM BST

What Starmer’s first 100 days would look like

Labour’s first 100 days in office will set the tone for what a Government led by Sir Keir Starmer will do, writes Tim Sigsworth.

Yet relatively little has been disclosed about the party’s plans for office should it win the general election on July 4.

Sir Keir has adopted a “ming vase” strategy, cautiously revealing as little about his policy platform as he can get away with to avoid denting his 20-point lead in the polls.

But hints of what a Labour Government will mean for Britain have started to drip out now that the election campaign is under way.

Read more: Details are starting to emerge of what Starmer’s Britain will look like

01:52 PM BST

‘Noisy minorities are being allowed to bully the rest of us into silence’

It can be quite remarkable how the perceptions of political events differ, writes Janet Daley.

Most of the commentariat has judged Rishi Sunak’s announcement of an election, standing outside No 10 in what became a soaking downpour, to have been humiliating. At best, a symbol of his poor judgment. At worst, an omen of the doom to come.

But the real people I talk to speak of the one thing that they found most notable about that scene: the infuriating, outrageous blasting of amplified music from what was described on the broadcast media as a “protest” outside the gates of Downing Street.

This “protest”, as it happened, was not a mass demonstration of organised discontent with the Government. It was just a puerile appearance by that bellowing buffoon Steve Bray who memorably disrupted much of the College Green news coverage of the Brexit debate with his relentless hollering.

At Downing Street, he was accompanied by a handful of mates and a boombox which played the New Labour anthem “Things Can Only Get Better” on repeat at full volume.

Janet Daley: This stunt will have appalled most ordinary voters

01:32 PM BST

16 and 17-year-olds should have the vote, says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed he would give the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds under a Labour government.

The Labour leader said: “If you can work, if you can pay tax, if you can serve in your Armed Forces, then you ought to be able to vote.”

01:31 PM BST

Starmer: Gove departure shows Sunak can’t be trusted

Sir Keir Starmer has said Michael Gove’s decision to step down as a Tory MP at the forthcoming election is a clear signal to voters that Rishi Sunak cannot be trusted, writes Max Stephens

The Labour leader claimed Conservatives had effectively “got off the bus” after Mr Gove, the Housing Secretary, joined the record number of his colleagues standing down ahead of the next national poll on Friday night.

Addressing reporters in Stafford on Saturday, the Labour leader, said: “I think it is very significant that senior Tory MPs are stepping down, particularly as senior as Andrea Leadsom and Michael Gove.

“Michael Gove has a reputation for delivery in government. So if he has effectively lost faith in what Rishi Sunak is putting before the electorate it does beg the question as to why the voters should have faith in what Rishi Sunak is putting forward.

“They have effectively got off the bus, because they don’t think the bus is going anywhere, I do think that’s significant.”

01:11 PM BST

Starmer refuses to apologise for Labour’s treatment of Duffield

Sir Keir Starmer has refused to apologise for the Labour Party’s treatment of Rosie Duffield, writes Max Stephens.

The Kent MP was investigated by the party over alleged anti-Semitic and transphobic comments in November last year, for which she was later exonerated.

Ms Duffield has received a backlash for her comments saying transwomen are not women and that only a woman can have a cervix. She was noticeably absent from the launch of Labour’s election campaign in Kent on Thursday,  prompting speculation she had been snubbed by Sir Keir over her views.


Sir Keir, while canvassing support from formerly Conservative-leaning voters in Stafford, was asked if he would apologise for her treatment

He replied: “I just want to reassure everyone in relation to that. Rosie Duffield is a respected member of the parliamentary party and I had a chance to speak with her just last week, thank you.”

12:57 PM BST

Scrap Net Zero targets to win election, Liz Truss urges

Liz Truss has urged Rishi Sunak to ditch all net zero targets to win the general election.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the former prime minister called on her successor to change course on green issues, migration and human rights laws to “deliver the conservative policies the public actually want”.

The intervention comes as the Conservatives continue to trail Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party by around 20 points in the polls, just over five weeks ahead of election day on June 4.

Mr Sunak has taken a more pragmatic approach to climate change policy than former prime ministers Boris Johnson or Theresa May, having delayed or diluted a number of objectives last summer, although remains committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

12:50 PM BST

Rishi Sunak winning back 2019 Tory voters after announcing snap election

Voters who backed the Tories in 2019 are now more likely to have a favourable opinion of Rishi Sunak after he called the snap election, new polling shows.

The first YouGov poll since Mr Sunak triggered the July 4 vote found those who backed the Conservatives at the last election have become more favourable towards the Prime Minister.

It will come as a boost for Downing Street following a damp start to Mr Sunak’s campaign and will add to hopes that the polls could narrow significantly between now and polling day.

Forty per cent of 2019 Tory supporters had a favourable view of the Prime Minister between May 10 and 12, with 54 holding an unfavourable view.

However, a survey conducted on Thursday and Friday, the two days after Mr Sunak announced the election, showed the same group now has a more favourable opinion of him, by 49 per cent to 47 per cent.

Read the full story here

12:35 PM BST

Mum’s the word for Sir Sajid

Sir Sajid Javid took his mother to Parliament for a final time before the dissolution of the 2019-2024 session today.

The former health secretary is standing down as a Tory MP after 14 years representing Bromsgrove, during which he held six cabinet positions.

Mr Javid posted on X:

12:32 PM BST

Making a splash

Sir Ed Davey
Sir Ed Davey took a trip to Birdham Pool Marina in Chichester, where he announced the Liberal Democrats' plans to abolish Ofwat over the sewage crisis and introduce a new water regulator - Andrew Matthews

12:14 PM BST

Isabel Oakeshott: The Left will let Saudi Arabia seize the jewel in our crown

Wealthy Arabs love Mayfair for its flash restaurants and beautiful boutiques, but when Saudi dignitaries swept into a discreet address off Park Lane last week, it was not designer clothes or haute cuisine they were after, writes Isabel Oakeshott.

Led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s education minister, the delegation had come to talk about our famous schools and universities – and explore opportunities for exporting the best of British education to Riyadh and beyond.

Oh, the irony! Just as Labour limbers up to unleash a devastating ideological assault on private schools with a tax policy that threatens to drive some out of existence, one of the richest and most ambitious countries on the planet is eyeing them up.

During their stay in London, the Saudi delegation met UK government officials, representatives from schools and universities, and British businesses. They were all eager to feature in Mohammed bin Salman al Saud’s multibillion dollar programme to transform his kingdom from a hard-line Islamic regime that used to condone the stoning of women for adultery into an AI superpower with a tech industry that will make Silicon Valley look dated.

Whether Saudi ministers found time in their packed schedule to talk to anyone from the Labour Party is doubtful, which may be just as well.

Isabel Oakeshott: Starmer has chosen the worst possible moment to attack our elite schools

12:04 PM BST

Why weaning Britain off foreign workers could come at a high price

Voters heading to the polls in July will have immigration at the front of their minds.

Some 40pc currently say it is among the biggest issues facing the country, just behind the economy (44pc) and health (49pc), YouGov polling shows.

It marks a stark change from the last election when only one in five cited it as a major concern.

It is therefore no surprise that both Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are talking tough on the issue.

“Immigration is finally coming down and we are stopping the boats with our Rwanda partnership,” the Prime Minister said last week.

The Labour leader, meanwhile, has made securing Britain’s borders one of his key pledges, promising to set up a new border command that would crackdown on illegal migration.

Eir Nolsøe has the full story here

11:46 AM BST

Sir Ed Davey campaignsin Gillian Keegan’s back yard

Sir Ed Davey is on a campaign visit to Chichester, the seat held by Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary.

The Liberal Democrats are projected to win in Ms Keegan’s constituency as they launch an offensive in dozens of ‘Blue Wall’ constituencies.

“The Conservative Party has a record of failure after years of chaos and neglect,” Sir Ed said.

“It’s little wonder voters in Chichester and across former Conservative heartlands are turning to the Liberal Democrats instead.

“This Conservative government has got to go and it’s clear that in many parts of the country it is the Liberal Democrats who can get them out. This election is our chance to deliver the change our country desperately needs.”

11:41 AM BST

Alex Chalk to seek re-election despite triple-figure majority

Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, will seek re-election despite having a majority of 981.

Mr Chalk is standing again in Cheltenham, which he has represented since 2015 and is a key target seat for the Liberal Democrats.

Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, launched his party’s campaign in Cheltenham on Thursday and declared the snap poll was “our chance to win the change our country desperately needs”.

The Liberal Democrats are currently second to the Conservatives in 80 seats across the country.

11:37 AM BST

Starmer wants to see 16 and 17-year-olds get the vote

Sir Keir Starmer has said he wants to see 16 and 17-year-olds be given the vote, writes Max Stephens from Stafford.

Citing how this age group can already serve in the Armed Forces, pay taxes and be employed, he said: “I want to see 16 and 17 year olds voting.”

Asked if he would support Diane Abbot being readmitted to the Labour Party, he said it was a decision for the National Executive Committee.

11:35 AM BST

This could turn out to be the most boring election campaign in history

Three days in, and this general election is already shaping up to be one of the most boring in history, writes Camilla Tominey.

I thought 2017 was bad but at least it featured Sexy Jezza trying to take us back to the 1970s while useful idiots banged their drums for the old pinko at Glastonbury. Remember the 100,000 metropolitan liberals who’d paid £243 each standing in a field, chanting, “Oh Jeremy Corbyn!” while live streaming it on their smartphones?

While I am sure we can look forward to another “nothing has changed” moment over the next six weeks, there is something depressingly Maybotic about the patter of the campaign so far.

Rishi Sunak’s schtick – that the Tories might be rubbish, but Labour will be even worse – is already rolling on repeat as the Prime Minister tours the factories of the UK in his high-vis jacket.

Sir Keir Starmer, meanwhile, is set to spend the next 40 days and 40 nights telling us that all we need is “change” and an “end to the chaos” after “14 years of Tory rule”.

Camilla Tominey: In a match-up of grey candidates, Sunak has a critical edge

11:26 AM BST

Starmer: We didn’t give voters a ‘proper option’ under Corbyn

Sir Keir Starmer has arrived at the Stafford Rangers Football Club stadium to canvass support from previously Conservative supporting voters, writes Max Stephens.

Speaking in the grounds of Marston Road, the Labour Leader apologised for the party not offering a viable option for a Labour government in the 2019 election.

An informally dressed Sir Keir, wearing a dark jacket, trainers, and his signature blue shirt, said Labour “needs to recognise” that a “proper option” had not been presented to voters under Jeremy Corbyn.

He told the half a dozen supporters assembled around him that politics should be about service and ther politicians as a whole “has lost sight of that”.

Addressing a teenager, he highlighted the benefits of apprenticeships, citing his father as an example.

“We have to get out of the idea that there is only one route to a career”.

11:22 AM BST

Starmer out and about in Stafford

Starmer is out and about
Sir Keir Starmer has joined Leigh Ingham, Labour's candidate for Stafford, while speaking to voters about the cost of living on the campaign trail in the West Midlands - Jacob King/PA

11:21 AM BST

Sunak shores up support among 2019 Tory voters

Voters who backed the Conservatives in 2019 are now more likely to have a favourable view of Rishi Sunak after he called the general election, new YouGov polling shows:

11:06 AM BST

Jeremy Clarkson: Labour and Tory governments ‘both equally useless’

Labour and Tory governments are “both equally useless”, Jeremy Clarkson has declared.

Writing in his most recent column for the Sun, the Clarkson’s Farm presenter said: “I literally wouldn’t let either of them run a bring ’n’ buy stall at a village fete.

“Private enterprise is the only answer, always. Look at everything around you now. Your Biro. Your phone. Your front door. Your furniture. Your cooker.

“All of these things work properly because they weren’t made by the government.”

10:34 AM BST

Pictured: Michael Gove leaves home the day after quitting the House

Michael Gove
The Levelling Up Secretary brought his colourful 19-year Westminster career to an end last night - Belinda Jiao

10:33 AM BST

‘Not right’ that Sunak has taken the day off

A Treasury minister rejected suggestions that Rishi Sunak was “taking the day off” today, with the Prime Minister campaigning in his constituency.

Bim Afolami, the economic secretary to the Treasury, confirmed the Prime Minister “will be campaigning” throughout the day.

Challenged by Sky News on whether the PM was “taking the day off” from the election trail, Mr Afolami said “It’s not right. He’s going to be campaigning in Yorkshire.

“I don’t know what he’s got planned but I know he’s campaigning in Yorkshire today.”

10:21 AM BST

Bar children from social media until age 16, say MPs

Children should be barred from social media until they are 16, an all-party committee of MPs has recommended.

The Commons education committee has recommended that the age at which children are allowed on to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram should be increased from 13 to 16.

It said the next government should also consider a statutory ban on mobile phones in schools and a total ban on smartphones for under-16s.

Robin Walker, the committee chairman, said: “Excessive screen and smartphone use has a clear negative impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of children and young people.

Charles Hymas, our Home Affairs Editor, has the story

10:10 AM BST

Rishi Sunak takes tea with veterans

The Prime Minister is in his constituency of Richmond (Yorks) this morning, meeting veterans in Northallerton for a community breakfast.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

10:01 AM BST

Keir Starmer’s plan for a decade in power: ‘I find it easy to be ruthless’

Barring Rishi Sunak pulling off what he himself has dubbed the “greatest comeback in political history”, Sir Keir Starmer will be the next prime minister. But what would he do with power?

Over the last two months, The Telegraph has been given access to the Labour leader and his inner circle to try to answer that question.

Away from simple policy slogans, where do Sir Keir’s instincts really lie? What type of leader is he? What motivates him? And what about when the cameras are switched off?

After Mr Sunak’s shock general election announcement on Wednesday, time is running out to understand the man who may well be leading the country in just six weeks.

His determination, members of Team Keir concur, is critical to understanding the success of his leadership to date. It can be hard to recall, in a year when Labour has become accustomed to 20 percentage point leads over the Tories, how precarious the political situation was when Sir Keir took over the party’s leadership in April 2020.

Ben Riley-Smith has this must-read feature

09:47 AM BST

Boris Johnson urges voters to ‘save this country from socialism’

Boris Johnson threw his weight behind the Tory election campaign last night by urging voters to “save this country from socialism” in a series of attacks on Sir Keir Starmer.

The former prime minister tore into the Labour leader as he urged the public to keep the Conservatives in office - but failed to mention Rishi Sunak by name once.

He warned that Sir Keir would be “the most dangerous and Left-wing Labour prime minister since the 1970s” who would raise both taxes and spending.

Mr Johnson also predicted that the election would be “much closer than currently forecast” because the public would “hesitate deeply” before voting Labour.

Nick Gutteridge has more here

09:25 AM BST

Andrea Leadsom, Sunak critic and former Tory leadership contender, quits politics

Dame Andrea Leadsom has quit frontline politics as she confirmed she would not be standing at the next general election.

Dame Andrea, a former business secretary and Tory leadership contender, served as the MP for South Northamptonshire since her election in 2010.

She became the 78th Conservative MP to stand down ahead of the July 4 general election, a record-breaking total that on Friday surpassed the number of Tories who stepped aside before Sir Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997.

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

Dame Andrea has been a junior health minister in Rishi Sunak’s government but it was claimed that she asked hours after the election was called whether she could submit a letter of no confidence in him. She declined to comment on the reports, saying that “1922 Committee meetings are private”.

Dame Andrea thanked Mr Sunak on Friday night for his “faith” in her during her time as a health minister and said all babies having the best possible start in life had been her “greatest passion”.

Read the full story here

09:22 AM BST

Labour’s challenger to Sunak: ‘You should pick a really dedicated MP’

Labour has selected Tom Wilson as its candidate in Rishi Sunak’s Yorkshire constituency of Richmond.

In an interview with the Yorkshire Post, Mr Wilson, who is from Darlington, insisted he was running for “local” reasons.

“It’s actually not, despite what people may think, anything to do with my challenger. It’s all about the seat,” he said.

The 29-year-old said voters did not believe Mr Sunak intended to stay on as an MP past the general election, despite assurances given by the Prime Minister in an interview with Loose Women last week.

“You talk to people on the ground around here and you get the impression that no one really expects him to be here six months after a general election, if he wins his seat or not.

“My message to voters is that you should pick a really dedicated MP who will fight for you and be influential in the next government, rather than just having a by-election in half a year.”

09:05 AM BST

‘The Tories’ biggest gift to Labour will be the ability to spend recklessly’

Let’s say, hypothetically, it’s the Labour Party forming the next government in six weeks’ time. What will Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves be inheriting from the Tories? asks Kate Andrews.

More bad than good, I’d say. And these are not problems that a simple change of government can turn around.

A record-high NHS waiting list, 5.6 million Britons on out-of-work benefits: this is the legacy of the lockdowns that the Tories ushered in and Labour supported every step of the way.

Addressing these crises will require a willingness to embrace the sorts of radical reform that, again, no party has wanted to admit is needed. Saying such things out loud would mean action would have to be taken. That would use up a lot of political capital, and require some unpopular decisions, too.

Kate Andrews: Reeves has the licence to push borrowing to its limits

08:58 AM BST

Is Westminster politics up Andy’s Street?

Andy Street, the former Tory mayor of the West Midlands who lost his re-election bid earlier this month, is said to be weighing up running as an MP at the next election.

The Conservatives are seeking candidates for dozens of seats as a record number of MPs stand down.

Andy Street and Richard Parker, the winning Labour candidate, at the West Midlands mayoral count
Andy Street and Richard Parker, the winning Labour candidate, at the West Midlands mayoral count - Anthony Devlin

Mr Street lost to Richard Paker on May 2 by a tiny margin of fewer than 1,600 votes, picking up 224,082 votes to Mr Parker’s 225,590.

A spokesman for Mr Street told LBC Radio: “Following the West Midlands Mayoral election result earlier this month, Andy is taking some time away to consider and assess his options before deciding on his next move.”

08:55 AM BST

Michael Gove: The most powerful Tory never to have been prime minister

Michael Gove’s decision not to stand for re-election brings to an end the career of arguably the most powerful Tory MP never to have been prime minister.

Twice a loser in Conservative leadership elections, he nevertheless had the ability to make or break the careers of others, and had a reputation as the most effective of ministers.

Michael Gove
Michael Gove

In Westminster, he will be remembered above all for stabbing Boris Johnson in the back and ending his 2016 leadership bid in one of the most remarkable political betrayals of modern times.

Teachers, though, will remember him for his vigorous reforms as education secretary, including the establishment of academies, and the no confidence votes in him passed by several unions.

Profile: ‘Most spectacular political assassin in a generation’ steps down

08:46 AM BST

Labour could give 16 and 17-year-olds right to vote

Labour could reportedly give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in its first year if it wins the general election, my colleague Will Hazell reports.

Last September, Labour said it would extend the franchise in in line with Scotland and Wales, which have already given 16 and 17-year-olds the vote for local elections and those for the devolved assemblies.

The policy was in the final draft emerging from its national policy forum - a key stepping stone in the process which Labour uses to draw up its manifesto.

At the time, a Labour spokesman said: “At the age of 16, many young people are paying taxes, working, and engaging in all parts of society – it is right that they get a say in who governs them.”

08:39 AM BST

Dame Andrea Jenkyns: Time to ‘Bring Back Boris’

Boris Johnson has been urged to stand for election by one of his staunchest MP supporters.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns submitted a letter of no confidence in Rishi Sunak last year and served as an education minister in the final months of Mr Johnson’s government. She wrote on X, formerly Twitter:

However, friends of the former prime minister believe he is unlikely to stand again as an MP in the upcoming electio.

Friends told The Telegraph this week Mr Johnson returning to the fray was unlikely to happen, with one saying: “I would think 100 [per cent] not!”

08:29 AM BST

Rachel Reeves: Stability in on the ballot paper

Rachel Reeves vowed in a new campaign video to keep tax, mortgages and inflation “as low as possible” under a Labour government.

The shadow chancellor said “stability [is] what’s on the ballot paper” on July 4, and cited her experience at the Bank of England as proof of her economic credentials.

Ms Reeves said: “Five more years of chaos with the Conservatives, or stability with a changed Labour Party. Because at this election stability is change... I know what it takes to run a successful economy and I know the importance of protecting family finances.

“After 14 years of the Conservatives you are worse off - taxes at a 70-year high, mortgages up and prices higher in the shops. It’s time for change.

“With me as chancellor, you’ll get economic stability, stability to protect family finances, stability to give businesses the confidence to invest and stability so we can keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.”

08:23 AM BST

Tory MP: My anniversary staycation has become a campaign day

A Conservative MP has said a staycation to mark his five-year wedding anniversary has become a full day of campaigning.

Dr Luke Evans, who is fighting for re-election in Hinckley and Bosworth, shared a photo of himself and his wife Dr Charlotte March, writing: “Five years ago today, a gorgeous, smart, loving woman married me!

“It has been a rollercoaster for 5 years. I certainly didn’t expect our planned staycation in Southend to celebrate, becoming a full days election campaigning - she has the patience of a saint!”

08:16 AM BST

Vote Labour, jokes Jeremy Hunt ahead of Lib Dem fight

Jeremy Hunt jokingly urged people to vote Labour in his Godalming and Ash where his seat is under threat from the Liberal Democrats.

The Chancellor was reported by the Financial Times to have made the remarks at a charity Lancaster House event in honour of Chris Martin, the late civil servant.

Quipping he endorsed tactical voting in his own backyard, Mr Hunt said: “Vote Labour in Godalming and Ash where I’m dealing with those b-------s, the Liberal Democrats.”

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt in Compton, Surrey as he fights to keep the Liberal Democrats out - Geoff Pugh

Sir Ed Davey’s party is hoping to achieve a ‘Portillo moment’ by unseating Mr Hunt in the newly-created constituency.

In South West Surrey, Mr Hunt won a majority of just under 9,000, or 15 per cent, at the last general election.

08:13 AM BST

Bellwether seat dispatch: ‘Labour can win ‘true blue’ Basingstoke for the first time’

Each week, the Telegraph will be taking the temperature in key constituencies around the country whose result could point the way for how the country will vote in July’s election. This week, Guy Kelly reports from Basingstoke:

It’s unlikely there’s anybody around who remembers it, but the general election of 1923 was a historic one for Basingstoke. It was the only time since the creation of the constituency, in 1885, that voters elected anybody other than a Conservative MP.

Reginald Fletcher, 1st Baron Winster, the Liberal victor in that contest 101 years ago, was the exception that proves the rule in these parts. Other than on that occasion, this slice of north-east Hampshire has been as “true blue” as they come.

But could this be about to change? This July, how Basingstoke votes will suddenly be of national importance as it is being touted as an early predictor of how the country will vote.

Dispatch: The mood on the streets is one of change

08:08 AM BST

Inheritance tax against Tory values, says Hunt

Jeremy Hunt has said that inheritance tax is unfair as he vowed to support the middle classes with tax breaks.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Chancellor described death duties as “profoundly anti-Conservative”, adding that the Tories would end taxes that discourage people from earning more money.

Mr Hunt vowed to build on two cuts to National Insurance and said: “We made a start, and we will go further.”

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt heading to his constituency to start canvassing ahead of the general election - Geoff Pugh

In his first interview since Rishi Sunak called the snap poll on July 4, Mr Hunt said the Tory manifesto would focus primarily on tax cuts that boost growth, reducing “taxes on work” and those that “disincentivise saving”.

The Chancellor’s promise of support for the middle classes came as private schools warned that parents were pulling children out ahead of Labour’s pledge to add VAT to the fees.

Szu Ping Chan and Madeleine Ross have the story

08:03 AM BST

Almost three in five voters ‘10/10 certain to vote’

Almost three in five voters said they were “absolutely certain to vote” in the first YouGov poll since the election was announced.

Sixty-six per cent of those aged 65 and over are certain to vote, as are 62 per cent of those aged 50 to 64 and 54 per cent of people aged 25 to 49.

The number of 18-to-24-year-olds saying they were certain to vote is up by 17 percentage points to 52 per cent.

07:59 AM BST

Good morning

Dominic Penna here, The Telegraph’s Political Correspondent, guiding you through the first Saturday of the general election campaign.

Labour’s lead is down by three points in the first YouGov poll since Rishi Sunak called the snap summer poll for July 4.

The survey, conducted on Thursday and Friday, shows the Conservatives up by one point to 22 per cent, while Labour is down two to 44 per cent.

It comes after a dramatic day yesterday in which Tory ‘big beasts’ including Michael Gove, Sir John Redwood and Dame Andrea Leadsom confirmed they will stand not seek re-election, taking the number of Conservative MPs quitting the Commons to a historic high.