Why did Rishi call an election despite being behind in the polls?

The PM likely chose to move forward with the vote for a few reasons.

May 23rd 2024.

Why did Rishi call an election despite being behind in the polls?
Yesterday evening, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, stepped down from his podium, completely soaked from the London rain. It was quite a sight to see, and it's safe to say that it will be one of the most memorable moments from that day. Along with that image, many people will also remember the catchy tune of "Things Can Only Get Better" that was played by campaigner Steve Bray as he protested outside Downing Street.

It was an interesting start to the Conservative party's campaign for the upcoming general election. They were already facing an uphill battle, with Labour leading in the polls for the past year and a half. On top of that, Sunak's approval ratings with the public were not exactly impressive. So, why did he choose this moment to call for a vote?

For the Prime Minister, it may have been a case of "this is as good as it's going to get." He may have felt that it was the best time to take a chance and see if the Tories could make a comeback. But as we know, in the world of politics, things can change very quickly.

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Yesterday morning, the Office for National Statistics released a report stating that inflation had decreased by 0.9% from March, bringing it to 2.3%. This may have been the moment when Sunak saw an opportunity to focus on the area where the Conservatives have always been strong: the economy.

The timing of the election may also work in Sunak's favor. In the days leading up to the vote, we may see planes taking migrants to Rwanda for the first time. And who knows, there's always a chance that Labour may make a huge misstep during their campaign, giving the Tories a boost. Sunak may have some ideas about the opposition's weaknesses and how to exploit them.

But ultimately, the main reason for calling the election was simply because time was running out. According to British law, an election must be held within five years of the last one. This means that the PM had until January 2025 at the latest to hold the vote. With opposition parties already criticizing him for overstaying his welcome, pushing the date further would only make him appear desperate.

Being a strong believer in numbers and calculations, Sunak may have decided that now was the time to take a chance and see if an electoral miracle could happen for the Tories in the next six weeks. It's a gamble, but it may be their best shot at staying in power.

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