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Sunak says ‘nothing has changed’ in his thoughts on election timing

Rishi Sunak insisted “nothing has changed” in his thoughts on the timing of the general election being in the second half of 2024.

The Prime Minister declined to rule out going to the country in May in the wake of the Budget announcement of a national insurance cut timed to come into effect in April.

But he said it remained his “working assumption” that the election would be later in the year.

The tax cut announced in Jeremy Hunt’s Budget on Wednesday triggered a fresh wave of speculation at Westminster about the possibility of a May polling day.

The Prime Minister fuelled that speculation during an appearance on BBC Radio 2 when he declined to rule out a May vote.

“I’m not going to say anything extra about that,” he said.

“What I would say is what matters is the choice at that election, and the choice, especially after this Budget, is clear.

“Our plans are working. Of course there’s more work to do, we are starting to deliver the change that people want to see and if we stick with that plan people can have the peace of mind that there is a brighter future for them and their families.”

Rishi Sunak visit to Rotherham
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited The Queens Hotel, a Wetherspoons pub in the former mining village of Maltby on Thursday (Carl Recine/PA)

But on BBC local radio in Yorkshire – using language which echoed Theresa May’s 2017 election comments about a social care U-turn – Mr Sunak said “nothing has changed”.

“I was very clear about this at the beginning of the year about my working assumption for the election being in the second half of the year – nothing has changed since then,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said the focus on the election date is from the Labour Party to “distract from the fact that actually they don’t want to talk about the substance”.

Labour’s national campaign manager Pat McFadden said: “Rishi Sunak should stop squatting in Downing Street and give the country what it desperately needs – a chance for change. The Prime Minister needs to finally come clean with the public and name the date of an election now.”