The UK is likely to have a general election next year, prime minister Rishi Sunak has hinted.
It’s the first time the PM has hinted at a possible date as speculation has been mounting on whether he would call one before being forced to as Labour surges ahead in the polls.
The last time the country voted in a general election was on 12 December 2019 and the new Parliament then met on 17 December.
The next general election must be held within five years of that date, so it would need to be before 17 December 2024, although a prime minister is free to call one at any time.
If an election has not been called before then, Parliament would be automatically dissolved and the election would take place 25 working days later, according to the Institute for Government.
This means the latest possible date for the next general election would be 28 January 2025.
Mr Sunak’s hint about the date came as he interviewed tech billionaire Elon Musk at the UK summit on the safety of artificial intelligence at Bletchley Park.
The pair discussed AI’s future impact on jobs, the economy and even friendships. The prime minister then went on to sat it was vital to tackle fake news, given that there were several national elections around the world next year.
He added: “Probably here.”
In February, Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: “The next 18 months will see us win or lose the next general election,” – which was seen as a hint that Mr Sunak could go to the country in September next year.
Mr Hands said the “strong expectation would be 2024” and a vote in January 2025 would “not be very festive” because parties would have to campaign over Christmas.
After Labour overturned large Tory majorities in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth in October, winning both by-elections, the Conservatives are thought to be planning to leave the nationwide poll late in the hope of an upturn in fortunes.