Gov't Under Renewed Pressure to Pick Date for General Election

As Oliver Dowden fights to keep the prime minister's options open, opposition figures call on the government to make up its mind

Alliance News 8 April, 2024 | 10:15AM
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Oliver Dowden UK Main

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has hinted a January 2025 election is possible after the prime minister himself insisted he was preparing for a poll in the second half of this year.

Facing questions from Sky News' Trevor Phillips, the deputy prime minister (DPM) said 2024 "almost certainly is an election year", suggesting the prospect of a later date has not been ruled out. Rishi Sunak has previously said he intends to call an election in the second half of the year, with October or November seen by many as the favoured period.

The latest possible date he could delay the poll until is January 28, 2025.

Dowden told the programme: "as we get into an actual election campaign, and this almost certainly is an election year, we move from a kind of referendum on the government to a choice.

"I'm confident as people face that choice and they look at the threat of Labour, whether it's building over the greenbelt in my constituency, carte blanche to do that, whether it's in relation to their employment laws, which are going to destroy the jobs market, or it's in relation to their their sums that don't add up versus our plan – you will see those numbers narrowing."

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrats deputy leader Daisy Cooper urged Sunak to end speculation, claiming the public "deserves the chance to deliver their verdict at the ballot box without any further delay".

"Rishi Sunak needs to put the country out of its misery and name an election date now," she said. "People across the country are fed up with this endless speculation of when the election will be."

Dowden also told Sky News he did not know why a Conservative campaign poster featuring the King had been deleted from social media.

The poster, which was mocked by some on X, formerly Twitter, featured text claiming Britain is the "second most powerful country in the world". This was based on consultancy firm Brand Finance's rankings of different nations' soft power, with the UK coming second to the US. Nevertheless, it had drawn criticism for solely focusing on the contribution of men.

The poster also featured a montage of images including Charles, Oppenheimer film director Christopher Nolan, Sunak himself, the England men's football team, and military jets.

Asked about its disappearance from the Conservatives' official X account, Dowden said: "I have absolutely no idea why that happened, but I would commend the sentiment there, which is the strength."

By David Lynch, PA Political Staff

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