Sunak Seeks ‘Greatest Comeback’ in Pre-Election Pep Talk

(Bloomberg) -- Rishi Sunak urged Conservative Party faithful in a pre-election speech to take part in “the greatest comeback in political history,” a tacit admission of the long odds the prime minister faces in local votes across England this week.

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Sunak made the comments at campaign headquarters on Monday, as the ruling party prepares to defend hundreds of council seats and two key mayoralties, according to people familiar with the matter. The remarks concede the uphill battle Sunak faces in attempting to overcome the opposition Labour Party’s consistent 20-point lead in national polls.

How well Sunak does in the local elections on Thursday could prove critical for his premiership. If Tory mayors Andy Street and Ben Houchen lose in the West Midlands and Tees Valley, respectively, Conservative MPs keen to oust Sunak may seize that moment to launch a leadership change, Bloomberg reported on Saturday.

Sunak Braces for Key Test With Tory Opponents Ready to Strike

Conservative Party staff have been told to ramp-up preparations for a broader national vote, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing private conservations. Government advisers have also been told to be ready to be seconded to the election campaign, one of the people said.

While the prime minister has long been said to prefer holding a general election toward the end of the year — allowing more time for his economic and migration policies to take hold — a series of campaign-style announcements have fueled speculation that he could call a summer vote. Sunak refused in an interview with Sky News that aired on Sunday to say whether the vote would happen in July.

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