Rishi Sunak has made ‘zero progress’ and is ‘miles behind in the polls’

Speculation that Rishi Sunak will call an early general election next spring is “ludicrous” while the Prime Minister is “miles behind in the polls”, a former Downing Street adviser has said.

The Tory leader is keeping pundits guessing on when he will call the next poll, which must happen by January 2025 at the latest.

With his personal approval rating and the Conservatives’ net favourability both at -53 percent, some have speculated that he will wait until the last possible moment in the hope his fortunes might have changed before then.

However, others think the premier’s predicament is only likely to get worse and that calling an election sooner rather than later will limit the damage at the ballot box.

However Lord Barwell, a former Conservative MP who was chief of staff to Theresa May when she was prime minister, said the speculation around a spring vote was “ludicrous”.

Rishi Sunak discusses illegal migration on visit to Italy

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, he wrote: “The Prime Minister is not going to call an election when he is miles behind in the polls.

“He has made zero progress this autumn. Does anyone seriously think he is going to close the gap by mid March?

“Some people argue the Conservatives might lose less badly in May than if they drag things out to the autumn.

“Maybe. But I wouldn’t want to be the person who had to convince @RishiSunak

to give up six months of being PM to hand his successor a slightly less bad inheritance.”

Lord Barwell said the only chance of the election happening sooner rather than later is if a number of Conservative MPs defect to Reform UK, wiping out the Tory majority and forcing Mr Sunak’s hand.

However, Lord Barwell said the speculation suits both sides. He said it “suits the Conservatives to keep Labour guessing”, while Sir Keir Starmer’s party could try to claim that Mr Sunak “bottled it” if he fails to call the election by May.

The Prime Minister has largely kept quiet on when the next election will be, but broke his silence this week when he told journalists at a Downing Street reception that there will be an election in 2024.

The Prime Minister has faced a difficult autumn, with the Tories staging a revolt against his controversial Rwanda migration Bill and Suella Braverman writing a damning letter after she was sacked as home secretary.

Sir Craig Oliver, another former Downing Street aide under David Cameron, has warned that Mr Sunak’s time in office was “over”, with the Prime Minister’’s “own MPs tramping the dirt down” on his “political coffin”.

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