Sunak Refuses to Confirm Election Date Ahead of Local Votes

(Bloomberg) -- The UK prime minister refused to pin down a date for a general election ahead of key regional votes this week viewed as a bellwether for the Conservative Party’s prospects.

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In an interview with Trevor Phillips on Sky News’ “Sunday Morning,” Rishi Sunak said that he won’t comment on whether or not a national vote will happen in July.

“You’re going to try and draw whatever conclusion you want from what I say,” Sunak said. “You should just listen to what I said, same thing I’ve said all year.”

Sunak came under more pressure on Saturday, when MP Dan Poulter said he’s defecting to Labour, citing underfunding of the NHS. The doctor and former health minister will also join more than 60 MPs in not seeking re-election.

Speculation over when Sunak will call a vote — which must take place before January next year — has continued to grip Westminster. Although aides have attempted to paint the past week as Sunak’s best in office, the results of local council and mayoral elections set for Thursday could drive some within his own party to push for a new leader.

Read more: ‘Operation Save Rishi’ Aims to Get Leader Through Key Vote

Rebels within the party are working on a 100-day plan to turn around the party’s fortunes after Poulter’s defection, the Telegraph reported.

The Tories on Thursday are defending just under 1,000 seats won in 2021 across local councils, but the party’s national support has slumped since then. They currently trail the Labour Party by 20 points in the polls.

(Adds resignation in third paragraph, newspaper reports starting sixth paragraph.)

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