Why I'm calling a General Election

May 26, 2024

Rishi Sunak explains in the Spectator why he has called a General Election.

This article first appeared in The Spectator on 22 May 2024.

In the last five years, our country has fought through the most challenging times since the second world war. As I stand here as your Prime Minister, I can’t help but reflect that my first proper introduction to you was just over four years ago. I stood behind one of the podiums upstairs in the building behind me. I told you that we faced a generation defining moment and that we as a society, could not be judged by some government action, but by the small acts of kindness that we showed one another. You met that challenge and then some, and I have never been prouder to be British.

And when I introduced the furlough scheme, I did so not because I saw a country simply in need of desperate help, albeit we were, but because I saw a country whose future hung in the balance. I could be bold and trust in the tens of millions of you at home that you would rise to the moment. Or I could accept the inevitable millions of job losses and pick up the pieces. In truth, it was no choice at all. I have never, and will never, leave the people of this country to face the darkest of days alone.

And you know that because you’ve seen it as I did, that I will forever do everything in my power to provide you with the strongest possible protection I can. That is my promise to you. Because for so many of us, it’s easy to forget the scale of what we’ve been through.

We were hit by a pandemic that upended normal life. Who would have thought that the government would ever tell us how many times a day we could leave our homes? Then, just as we were recovering from Covid, war returned to Europe with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, sending your energy bills spiralling. I came to office above all, to restore economic stability.

Economic stability is the bedrock of any future success, whether that is rising wages and good jobs, investment in our public services, or the defence of the country. And because of our collective sacrifice and your hard work, we have reached two major milestones in delivering that stability, showing that when we work together, anything is possible.

Our economy is now growing faster than anyone predicted, outpacing Germany, France and the United States. And this morning it was confirmed that inflation is back to normal. This means that the pressure on prices will ease and mortgage rates will come down. This is proof that the plan and priorities I set out are working. I recognise that it has not always been easy. Some of you will only just be starting to feel the benefits and for some it might still be hard when you look at your bank balance. For this hard earned economic stability was only ever meant to be the beginning. The question now is how and who do you trust to turn that foundation into a secure future for you, your family, and our country?

Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future. To decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made, or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty. Earlier today, I spoke with His Majesty the King to request the dissolution of parliament. The King has granted this request and we will have a general election on the 4th of July. This election will take place at a time when the world is more dangerous than it has been since the end of the cold war.

Putin’s Russia is waging a brutal war in Ukraine and will not stop there if he succeeds. That war has also made it all too clear the risk to our energy security. In the Middle East, the forces of Islamist extremism threaten regional and ultimately global stability. These tensions are exploited by extremists who seek to undermine our values and divide our society here at home. China is looking to dominate the 21st century by stealing the lead in technology, and migration is being weaponised by hostile states to threaten the integrity of our borders.

These uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action to chart a course to a secure future. You must choose in this election: who has that plan? Who is prepared to take the bold action necessary to secure a better future for our country and our children? Now, I cannot and will not claim that we have got everything right. No government should. But I am proud of what we have achieved together: the bold actions we have taken, and I’m confident about what we can do in the future.

We’ve tackled inflation, controlled debt, cut workers taxes and increased the state pension by £900. We’ve reduced taxes on investment and seized the opportunities of Brexit to make this the best country in the world to grow a business; record amounts of funding into our NHS and ensured it is now training the doctors and nurses it needs in the decades to come.

We reformed education and our children are now the best readers in the western world. We prioritised energy security, and your family finances over environmental dogma in our approach to net zero.

We fully funded an increase in defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP. We made a decision to invest more in local transport that you actually use, rather than endlessly plow more money into HS2.

We set out a comprehensive plan to reform our welfare system, to make it fair for those who pay for it, as well as those who need it. Immigration is finally coming down and we are stopping the boats with our Rwanda partnership. And we will ensure that the next generation grows up smoke-free.

I hope that my work since I became Prime Minister shows that we have a plan and are prepared to take bold action necessary for our country to flourish.

Now, I’ve stuck with that plan and have always been honest with you about what is needed, even when that’s been difficult, because I’m guided by doing what is right for our country, not what is easy. I can’t say the same thing for the Labour party because I don’t know what they offer. And in truth, I don’t think you know either. And that’s because they have no plan. There is no bold action, and as a result, the future can only be uncertain with them on the 5th of July.

Either Keir Starmer or I will be Prime Minister. He has shown time and time again that he will take the easy way out and do anything to get power. If he was happy to abandon all the promises he made to become Labour leader once he got the job, how can you know that he won’t do exactly the same thing if he were to become Prime Minister? If you don’t have the conviction to stick to anything you say. If you don’t have the courage to tell people what you want to do. And if you don’t have a plan. How can you possibly be trusted to lead our country, especially at this most uncertain of times?

Over the next few weeks, I will fight for every vote. I will earn your trust, and I will prove to you that only a Conservative government led by me, will not put our hard earned economic stability at risk, and restore pride and confidence in our country, and with a clear plan and bold action, will deliver a secure future for you, your family and our United Kingdom.

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