Rishi Sunak is gearing up for a general election in the autumn of 2024 as he believes that will give him the best chance of a shock victory.
According to Telegraph reports, the prime minister has shrugged off calls to go to the polls early, instead holding out in the hope that the economy improves and new small-boats legislation kicks into effect.
It would also allow for more time to close the polling gap on Labour.
The Tories are 18 percentage points behind on polling average trackers, down from 24 points when Sunak took over in October.
Half of voters expect the Labour Party to be the largest party at the next general election – including 30 per cent expecting a Labour majority – while only 22 per cent expect the Conservatives to be the largest party.
Sunak has unveiled the Conservative Party’s five key priorities in the run-up to the election, but they’ve all gotten off to a shockingly bad start.
Here’s the run-down in full:
UK inflation slowed last month on the back of lower petrol prices but remained in double figures as household budgets continue to come under pressure.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation fell to 10.1 per cent in March from 10.4 per cent in February.
Nevertheless, it remained higher than experts had predicted as food and drink prices continued to soar.
Economists had forecast inflation would be 9.8 per cent for the month.
The high level of inflation continues to keep pressure on the Bank of England regarding interest rates, with inflation still heavily above the 2 per cent target rate.
The ONS revealed food prices increased by 19.1 per cent year-on-year, the sharpest jump since August 1977.
Grow the economy
The UK is on track to be the worst-performing G7 economy this year – despite an upgrade from the International Monetary Fund.
Output is expected to contract by 0.3 per cent this year before rebounding to grow by 1 per cent next year, economists working for the body said.
It puts the UK firmly at the bottom in the G7 group of advanced economies this year, including sanctions-hit Russia.
The only other economy that the IMF expects to decline is Germany’s, which is expected to contract by 0.1 per cent.
Britain’s national debt will continue to climb over the next five years, according to an International Monetary Fund study.
The IMF said the cost of subsidies to consumers faced with rocketing energy bills meant repair of the UK’s Covid-battered public finances was taking longer than in other developed countries.
In its Fiscal Monitor – one of its three flagship reports – the Washington-based body said it expected overall UK national debt to keep rising over the next five years. Public debt is forecast to increase steadily from 103 per cent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP), in 2022 to 113 per cent by 2028.
Net debt – which strips out financial assets owned by the government – is also forecast to rise, from just under 92 per cent of GDP in 2022 to just over 101 per cent in 2027 and 2028.
Cut waiting lists
Around one in 10 people arriving at major A&E departments in England are having to wait more than 12 hours before being admitted, transferred or discharged, new figures show.
At some NHS trusts the figure is close to one in five, while at two trusts – East Kent and Barking, Havering & Redbridge – the proportion is higher than one in four.
It is the first time data has been published that measures waits of more than 12 hours from the point of arrival at A&E, and comes as the overall waiting list for treatment in England has climbed to a new record high.
Stop the boats
More than 5,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year.
Home Office figures published on Tuesday confirmed the provisional total number of people making the journey to date in 2023 now stands at 5,049.
A record 45,755 crossings were recorded in 2022.
The cumulative number of Channel crossings this year is currently running below the level for 2022, but are still eye-wateringly high.
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