In full: Rishi Sunak's and Keir Starmer's election statements

Rishi Sunak announces a general election in Downing Street
[PA Media]

Rishi Sunak has fired the starting gun on a general election that will take place on 4 July.

In a speech in a rain-soaked Downing Street, the prime minister said it was "the moment for Britain to choose its future".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pledged to "stop the chaos" and "start to rebuild Britain".

Mr Sunak's statement in full:

"In the last five years, our country has fought through the most challenging times since the Second World War.

"As I stand here as your prime minister, I can't help but reflect that my first proper introduction to you was just over four years ago.

"I stood behind one of the podiums upstairs in the building behind me. I told you that we faced a generation-defining moment, and that we as a society would not be judged by some government action, but by the small acts of kindness that we showed one another.

"You met that challenge - and then some - and I have never been prouder to be British.

"And when I introduced the furlough scheme, I did so not because I saw a country simply in need of desperate help, albeit we were, but because I saw a country whose future hung in the balance.

"I could be bold and trust in the tens of millions of you at home, that you would rise to the moment.

"Or I could accept the inevitable - millions of job losses - and pick up the pieces.

"In truth, it was no choice at all. I have never and will never leave the people of this country to face the darkest of days alone, and you know that because you've seen it.

"As I did then, I will forever do everything in my power to provide you with the strongest possible protection I can - that is my promise to you.

"Because for so many of us, it's easy to forget the scale of what we've been through.

"We were hit by a pandemic that upended normal life, Who would have thought that the government would ever tell us how many times a day we could leave our homes?

"Then, just as we were recovering from Covid, war returned to Europe, with Putin's invasion of Ukraine sending your energy bills spiralling.

"I came to office above all to restore economic stability.

"Economic stability is the bedrock of any future success: whether that is rising wages and good jobs, investment in our public services, or the defence of the country.

"And because of our collective sacrifice and your hard work, we have reached two major milestones in delivering that stability.

"Showing that when we work together, anything is possible.

"Our economy is now growing faster than anyone predicted - outpacing Germany, France and the United States - and this morning, it was confirmed that inflation is back to normal.

"This means that the pressure on prices will ease and mortgage rates will come down.

"This is proof that the plan and priorities I set out are working.

"I recognise that it has not always been easy. Some of you will only just be starting to feel the benefits, and for some it might still be hard when you look at your bank balance.

"But this hard-earned economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning. The question now is how, and who do you trust, to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family and our country.

"Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future, to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty.

"Earlier today, I spoke with His Majesty the King to request the dissolution of Parliament.

"The King has granted this request and we will have a general election on 4 July.

"This election will take place at a time when the world is more dangerous than it has been since the end of the Cold War.

"Putin's Russia is waging a brutal war in Ukraine and will not stop there if he succeeds. That war has also made it all too clear the risk to our energy security.

"In the Middle East, the forces of Islamist extremism threaten regional and ultimately global stability.

"These tensions are exploited by extremists who seek to undermine our values and divide our society here at home.

"China is looking to dominate the 21st century by stealing a lead in technology, and migration is being weaponised by hostile states to threaten the integrity of our borders.

"These uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action, to chart a course to a secure future. You must choose in this election who has that plan, who is prepared to take the bold action necessary to secure a better future for our country and our children.

"Now I can not and will not claim that we have got everything right, no government should. But I am proud of what we have achieved together, the bold actions we have taken and I'm confident about what we can do in the future.

"We've tackled inflation, controlled debt, cut workers' taxes, and increased the state pension by £900.

"We've reduced taxes on investment and seized the opportunities of Brexit to make this the best country in the world to grow a business, put record amounts of funding into our NHS and ensured it is now training the doctors and nurses it needs in the decades to come.

"We reformed education and our children are now the best readers in the western world.

"We prioritise energy security and your family finances over environmental dogma in our approach to net zero.

"We've fully funded an increase in defence spending to 2.5% of GDP.

"We made a decision to invest more in local transport that you actually use, rather than endlessly plough more money into HS2.

"We set out a comprehensive plan to reform our welfare system to make it fair for those who pay for it, as well as those who need it.

"Immigration is finally coming down and we are stopping the boats with our Rwanda partnership.

"And we will ensure that the next generation grows up smoke free.

"I hope that my work since I became prime minister shows that we have a plan and are prepared to take bold action necessary for our country to flourish.

"Now I've stuck with that plan and always been honest with you about what is needed, even when that's been difficult, because I'm guided by doing what is right for our country, not what is easy.

"I can't say the same thing for the Labour Party, because I don't know what they offer and in truth I don't think you know either. And that's because they have no plan, there is no bold action and as a result the future can only be uncertain with them.

"On 5 July either Keir Starmer or I will be prime minister.

"He has shown time and time again that he will take the easy way out and do anything to get power.

"If he was happy to abandon all the promises he made to become Labour leader once he got the job, how can you know that he won't do exactly the same thing if he were to become prime minister?

"If you don't have the conviction to stick to anything you say, if you don't have the courage to tell people what you want to do, and if you don't have a plan, how can you possibly be trusted to lead our country, especially at this most uncertain of times?

"Over the next few weeks, I will fight for every vote. I will earn your trust.

"And I will prove to you that only a Conservative government led by me will not put our hard-earned economic stability at risk, can restore pride and confidence in our country.

"And with a clear plan and bold action will deliver a secure future for you, your family and our United Kingdom."

Sir Keir Starmer responds to Rishi Sunak calling an election on 4 July
[PA Media]

Sir Keir's statement in full:

"Tonight the prime minister has finally announced the next general election.

"A moment the country needs - and has been waiting for. And where, by the force of our democracy, power returns to you.

"A chance to change for the better your future, your community, your country.

"Now it will feel like a long campaign - I'm sure of that. But no matter what else is said and done, that opportunity for change is what this election is about.

"Over the course of the last four years, we've changed the Labour Party. Returned it once more to the service of working people.

"All we ask now - humbly - is to do exactly the same for our country, and return Britain to the service of working people.

"To that purpose, we offer three reasons why you should change Britain with Labour.

"One - because we will stop the chaos.

"Look around our country. The sewage in our rivers, people waiting on trolleys in A and E, crime virtually unpunished, mortgages and food prices through the roof.

"It's all - every bit of it - a direct result of the Tory chaos in Westminster.

"Time and again, they pursue their own interests, rather than tackling the issues that affect your family.

"And if they get another five years, they will feel entitled to carry on exactly as they are. Nothing will change.

"A vote for Labour is a vote for stability - economic and political. A politics that treads more lightly on all our lives, a vote to stop the chaos.

"Two - because it's time for change.

"Our offer is to reset both our economy and our politics, so that they once again serve the interests of working people.

"We totally reject the Tory view that economic strength is somehow gifted from those at the top.

"Over the past 14 years - through all the crises we've had to face - sticking with this idea has left our country exposed, insecure and unable to unlock the potential of every community.

"But a vote for Labour is a vote to turn the page on all that - a vote for change.

"And finally, three - because we have a long-term plan to rebuild Britain, a plan that is ready to go, fully costed and fully funded.

"We can deliver economic stability, cut the NHS waiting times, secure our borders with a new Border Security Command.

"Harness Great British Energy to cut your bills for good, tackle anti-social behaviour. And get the teachers we need in your children's classroom.

"But most of importantly of all, we do all this with a new spirit of service. Country first, party second.

"A rejection of the gesture politics you will see in this campaign, I have no doubt from the Tories and the SNP.

"I'm well aware of the cynicism people hold towards politicians at the moment.

"But I came into politics late, having served our country as leader of the Crown Prosecution Service.

"And I helped the Police Service in Northern Ireland to gain the consent of all communities.

"Service of our country is the reason and the only reason why I am standing here now, asking for your vote.

"And I believe with patience, determination and that commitment to service, there is so much pride and potential we can unlock across our country.

"So here it is, the future of the country in your hands.

"On 4 July you have the choice. And together, we can stop the chaos.

"We can turn the page. We can start to rebuild Britain, and change our country. Thank you."