Leaders make final pitches ahead of polling day

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer
[PA Media/Reuters]

Party leaders have been making their final pitches to voters in a frantic day of campaigning ahead of the general election on Thursday.

In some of his most confident remarks yet, Labour's Sir Keir Starmer said his party is "ready for what comes next" as voters prepare to head to the polls.

He told reporters the changes he had made to Labour since taking over as leader in 2020 were "being vindicated".

Meanwhile Rishi Sunak used a campaign event to repeat his pleas for voters to deprive Labour of a "supermajority".

Speaking in Hampshire, the prime minister said the result was not a "foregone conclusion" and he would “fight for every vote”.

The Conservatives, who have failed to narrow a large gap with Labour in national opinion polls during the campaign, have increasingly made warnings about the dangers of a big Labour majority a key plank of their campaign.

Earlier, Tory cabinet minister Mel Stride said Labour was "highly likely" to win the largest majority in modern British history - a comment Sir Keir described as "voter suppression" designed to "get people to stay home".

Speaking at a rally in the West Midlands, the Labour leader urged against complacency, warning voters who want change of the dangers of waking up on Friday to "five more years of Tory government”.

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

Nevertheless, he earlier told reporters on board his campaign plane flying to England from Scotland he was "confident in the hard work that we have done".

“By and large - I’m probably tempting fate now in the last few hours - we’ve had a really good campaign,” he said.

He added: "And we’re ready for what comes next if the country puts their trust and confidence in us.”

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Speaking at a rally in Hampshire alongside his wife and parents after a day campaigning in southern England, Mr Sunak urged voters not to "sleepwalk" into a Labour "supermajority".

He repeated warnings that if granted the keys to Downing Street, the party would increase taxes, increase the cost of green measures and turn the UK into the “soft touch of Europe" on illegal migration.

He acknowledged that voters "do have a hesitation about giving us their support again,” adding that he understood their “frustration" with him and his party.

But he said Thursday's vote was “not a referendum about the past” but a “choice about the future of our country”.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

  • Lib Dem leader Ed Davey boarded a Thunderbirds-themed pink Cadillac during another day of campaigning in Tory-held target seats

  • Reform UK's Nigel Farage led chants of "we want our country back" atop an Army vehicle in Clacton, where he is standing. You can see a full list of candidates standing here

  • Scottish First Minister John Swinney focused his pitch on tackling child poverty and forging closer ties with Europe, urging "every single SNP voter" to turn out on Thursday

  • The co-leaders of the Green Party of England and Wales said they were aiming to win "at least" four seats

Polling stations across the UK will open at 07.00 BST on Thursday and close at 22.00, before ballots are then counted overnight.

Based on figures from the last election in 2019, around one-in-five voters are likely to have already made their decision and cast a postal vote.

Most results are expected to come in during the early hours, with a full set of results expected by early on Friday morning.

The election is taking place on revised constituency boundaries to take account of population changes in recent years, with around nine-in-ten seats changing to a greater or lesser extent.

It will also be the first general election where people in England, Wales and Scotland will need valid photo ID to vote in person.