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Rishi Sunak laughs off questions about when he will have the ‘guts’ to call a general election

Rishi Sunak laughed off questions about whether he has the “guts” to call a general election in a tetchy interview forcing a journalist to ask: “Why’s that funny?”

The prime minister came under pressure on Tuesday to reveal the date of the contest, which he has said will take place in the second half of 2024.

And, having received a barrage of requests from listeners, BBC Radio Tees urged the PM to “give us a date”.

Rishi Sunak laughed off questions about when he will go to the polls (Dan Kitwood/PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak laughed off questions about when he will go to the polls (Dan Kitwood/PA Wire)

Mr Sunak was accused of “bottling” a 2 May general election, which could have been called to coincide with council and mayoral elections being held across the country.

Labour accused the PM of being a “chicken” as the Conservatives are 22 points behind in the polls and heading for an electoral wipeout.

But Mr Sunak has insisted he is holding out until later in the year because he has “got lots that I want to get on with”.

In an excruciating interview with Amy Oakden, the BBC presenter said: “When we found out that you would be joining us on the breakfast show this morning, we did post on social media.

“Lots of people got in touch with a whole range of questions, but the overwhelming one was when will there be a general election?”

Mr Sunak burst out laughing and said he had answered the question “many times in the last few weeks”, before Ms Oakden pressed him to “give us a date”.

The PM kept laughing, before adding “unfortunately not”.

Keir Starmer has repeatedly called for the PM to call a general election (PA Wire)
Keir Starmer has repeatedly called for the PM to call a general election (PA Wire)

A frustrated Ms Oakden said: “Why not? Why is that funny? Why are you laughing about that?”

Mr Sunak said there were “formal and official” ways to announce a general election.

The Liberal Democrats accused the prime minister of “laughing in the face of people crying out for change”.

Local government spokesperson Helen Morgan said: “Rishi Sunak laughing in the face of people crying out for change is the perfect example of how careless, callous and chaotic this Conservative Party is.

“While Sunak clings on it’s obvious that people up and down the country are demanding he and this rabble stop hunkering in their offices.”

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has previously suggested that the general election could be held in October.

Meanwhile, Downing Street sources have told The Independent the date will be 10 October, with the PM not wanting to wait until mid-November to avoid a clash with the US presidential election.