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U.K.’s Rishi Sunak calls snap general election for summer – National


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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday called a snap general election for July 4, ending weeks of speculation and setting up a possible political sea change for the United Kingdom.

Sunak made the announcement outside 10 Downing Street after holding a meeting of his cabinet where he informed them of his plans to dissolve Parliament.

“Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future,” Sunak said during his rain-soaked address.

Under British law, a general election needed to be held by January 2025, and Sunak had repeatedly said it will be in the back end of 2024.

Sunak’s Conservative Party has been in power since 2010, the longest reign for a party in the U.K. in modern times.

But the party has fallen steadily out of favour since the last election in 2019, with Sunak the third person to serve as prime minister since then.

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He took office through party selection in October 2022 after the turbulent terms of Boris Johnson, who was brought down by a series of ethics scandals, and Liz Truss, whose brief term saw economic turmoil over unfunded tax cuts and who lasted just 50 days in the job.

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Sunak has managed to steady the economy, but has also failed to turn around his party’s popularity.

Headlines have been dominated with criticism over policies like a world-leading ban on smoking and a controversial — and court-blocked — migrant relocation program that sends people arriving on small boats from across the English Channel to Rwanda.

Opinion polls suggest the Conservatives are well behind the opposition Labour Party heading into the election. The latest BBC poll tracker suggests Labour is more than 20 points ahead of the Tories.

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A change in government would also have implications for Canada, a key ally and trading partner that has nevertheless found itself in conflict with the U.K. recently.

Britain announced in January that it was pausing negotiations for a new free trade agreement with Canada, claiming “progress is not being made.”

Earlier this month, Foreign Secretary David Cameron — who served as the first prime minister of the modern Conservative era — took a shot at NATO allies like Canada who aren’t meeting the alliance’s spending target of two per cent of GDP on defence, saying the threshold should be raised even higher to 2.5 per cent.

Canada’s new defence policy would raise its current spending levels to 1.76 per cent of GDP.

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U.K.’s Rishi Sunak calls snap general election for summer – National

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