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Has Jeremy Hunt Accidentally Revealed The Date Of The Election?

Britain's Chancellor Jeremy Hunt speaks to a Tv reporter during a visit to a builders warehouse in London, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. The Chancellor earlier Wednesday delivered the annual Budget to the House of Commons . (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, pool)
Britain's Chancellor Jeremy Hunt speaks to a Tv reporter during a visit to a builders warehouse in London, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. The Chancellor earlier Wednesday delivered the annual Budget to the House of Commons . (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, pool) via Associated Press

Jeremy Hunt has dropped a big hint that the much-anticipated general election will take place in the autumn.

The chancellor told a Lords committee it will be a squeeze to deliver the next Whitehall spending review before April 2025 if polling day is in October.

“If the general election is in October that will mean it’s very, very tight,” Hunt said.

Jon Craig, chief political correspondent of Sky News, suggested October 17 is the most likely date.

Last week, Rishi Sunak finally ruled out a general election on May 2 as speculation ramped up over an early vote.

The prime minister told ITV West Country that voters across the UK will not have to go to the polls “on that day”.

Senior Labour figures, and many Tories, wanted the general election to coincide with the local council polls in England and Wales on May 2.

What do we actually know?

In Britain, each electoral term is supposed to last five years. Then prime minister Boris Johnson called the last general election in December 2019, meaning the latest possible date for the country to go to the polls would be January 2025.

But in reality, and ever since the establishment of fixed terms in 2011, the five-year gap between polls is not what happens in practice.

Under the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, a prime minister has the power to call an election earlier than the deadline – all voters would have to wait for is the 25 days between a PM making a “request” to the King to dissolve parliament (and as a constitutional monarch, the King Charles could not reject it) and polling day.

As it’s in his gift to choose, Sunak is clearly likely to pick a date most favourable to him and his party. And since Labour holds a commanding poll lead, he isn’t going to rush the country to the ballot box when there’s still time to steal a win – however unlikely that currently looks.

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