OPINION - The Standard View: Why call an election now? Because things can get worse for Rishi Sunak


Once the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was quietly repealed, Boris Johnson reclaimed for himself and his successors the power (via the monarch) to dissolve Parliament and call a general election. For better or worse, Rishi Sunak has exercised that power.

For the pedants, July 4 is just about in the second half of the year, if not quite the autumn date Sunak had previously floated. His announcement was therefore a surprise, not least because the iron rule of British politics is that prime ministers do not go to the country when they are more than 20 points behind in the opinion polls. Which prompts the question: why now?

The logical answer is that Sunak and his inner circle do not believe that, to coin a phrase, things can only get better. That even if the economy continues to improve, inflation eases and interest rates fall, the feel-good factor — such as one might transpire — will not translate into goodwill towards the Conservatives. That the “time for a change” momentum means that the longer the Prime Minister waits to call an election, the fiercer the rebuke might become from voters.

In which case, one could argue this election is long overdue.

Don’t ignore London

Even in 2019, when Jeremy Corbyn led Labour to its worst defeat since 1935, the party performed well in the capital — winning 49 of 73 constituencies. Yet Sir Keir Starmer could yet pick up a few more.

Labour looks set to take Tory seats such as Kensington and Bayswater, Chingford and Woodford Green, and Chipping Barnet. At the same time, the Liberal Democrats may hope to defeat the Conservatives in Wimbledon as well as Carshalton and Wallington, along with seats in the Home Counties — the so-called “Blue Wall”.

The issues too will be different in the capital, and in different parts of the city — from the Ulez extension and housing to the Israel-Hamas war. Meanwhile, all Londoners want a government that, far from keen on levelling-down our city, seeks to raise it up as the wealth-creating, job-producing, talent-bursting capital  it is. In other words, Londoners are not so different to voters in other parts of the UK.

Our capital’s now 75 seats are up for grabs — the parties ought not ignore the global city on their doorstep.


Where was Rishi’s Dryrobe?

It is the item that is dividing Londoners. Some swear by it, others at those who wear it. We are referring, of course, to changing robes — and in particular the Dryrobe. Outdoor swimming is no doubt on the rise, another lockdown hangover. But our writer El Hunt has noticed a disturbing trend: the drier the place, the higher the chances of spotting a Dryrobe.

The item is at risk of becoming the Chelsea Tractor of clothing, purchased not for its off-road utility but for signalling purposes. So, yes, the Dryrobe is divisive, but it may still poll better than the Conservative Party. If only the  Prime Minister had thought to don his while speaking in the pouring rain at Downing Street.

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