Polls to open as millions of voters make their final decision

Party leaders have put their closing arguments to the public as the country goes to the polls on Thursday to end six weeks of campaigning.

Millions of people across the UK will cast their vote between 7am and 10pm, with opinion polls suggesting Labour is on course to secure a big majority in the House of Commons and form a new government.

In what may be his last day with the title, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged voters to “save the UK” from a Labour majority by voting Conservative.

Mr Sunak was joined by his parents and his wife, Akshata Murty, for the final stump speech of the election campaign on Wednesday night.

He stood for a photo with his family after giving a speech at Romsey Rugby Club, north of Southampton where he grew up.

“This underdog will fight to the final whistle,” Mr Sunak said during his last speech on the trail.

The Prime Minister called on Tory activists to continue campaigning, claiming they had “urgent work to do” to “save the UK” from a Labour government.

In his last speech of the campaign, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer encouraged voters to  “imagine a Britain moving forward together with a Labour government”.

Sir Keir was cheered by activists as he spoke at a community centre in Redditch, Worcestershire.

He said: “That’s what we are fighting for, let’s continue that fight.

“If you want change, you have to vote for it.”

General Election campaign 2024
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gives a speech at Romsey Rugby Club, Hampshire (Jonathan Brady/PA)

As the bookies’ favourite to be the next prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer said he was pleased with Labour’s campaign and his party was “ready for what comes next”.

He told reporters on his flight from Scotland to Worcestershire: “When I took over as leader of the Labour Party the optimists said it will take 10 years to fix this party and get it back. The pessimists said you are never going to be in government again.

“We had a three-part strategy, we stuck to it and here we are, the day before the election, in a reasonably good position going into the opening of polls at 7 o’clock tomorrow morning.

“So I’m pleased, I’m confident in the hard work that we have done and we are ready for what comes next if the country puts their trust and confidence in us.”

General Election campaign 2024
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer making a speech during a visit to Redditch, Worcestershire (Jacob King/PA)

Ending a campaign that was dominated by headline-catching stunts, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey drove off in a pink Cadillac convertible with his deputy Daisy Cooper after his last election campaign stop.

The Lib Dem leader gave a stump speech at Hammond’s End Farm in Harpenden to the tune of ABBA’s Take A Chance On Me.

Sir Ed said he had enjoyed the campaign, which saw him travel the entire length of the UK, travel 6,000 miles on the Lib Dem’s Yellow Hammer One bus and bungee 160 feet.

But he added: “Communities are angry. The water companies have been allowed to pour their filthy sewage into our rivers, lakes and onto our beaches. This has to change. The Conservatives have got to go.”

General Election campaign 2024
Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey, left, and deputy leader Daisy Cooper during a visit to Hammond’s End Farm in Harpenden (James Manning/PA)

North of the border Scotland’s First Minister has urged “every single SNP voter” to turn out on Thursday in what he said will be an “incredibly close” contest throughout the country.

Addressing supporters at a pre-election rally in Leith on Wednesday evening, John Swinney said the Conservatives were going to be “heavily defeated” by the Labour Party in England, but that there were “narrow margins” between Labour and the SNP north of the border.

General Election campaign 2024
Scottish First Minister and SNP leader John Swinney gives a speech with SNP parliamentary candidate for Edinburgh North and Leith, Deidre Brock in Leith (Jane Barlow/PA)

An average of all polls completed during the seven days to July 3 puts Labour on 39%, the party’s lowest rating since the campaign began, 18 points ahead of the Conservatives on 21%, followed by Reform on 16%, the Lib Dems on 11% and the Greens on 6%.

The Tories are up slightly on the figures for the previous week while Labour are down, with the averages for the seven days to June 26 being Labour 41%, Conservatives 20%, Reform 16%, Lib Dems 11% and Greens 6%.

On May 22, the day Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the General Election, the seven-day averages stood at Labour 45%, Conservatives 23%, Reform 11%, Lib Dems 9% and Greens 6%.