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Rishi Sunak won’t call election ‘because he thinks he’ll lose’, says Keir Starmer | Politics News

Rishi Sunak is “completely wrong” to say nobody wants a general election and won’t call one now “because he thinks he’ll lose”, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby asked the Labour leader what he thought about the prime minister’s comments last week that an election is “not what the country wants”.

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“He’s completely wrong about that,” Sir Keir said. “What he really meant was he’s not happy to go to the electorate because he thinks he will lose.”

Sir Keir challenged the prime minister to re-think his position and go to the polls.

Referencing Mr Sunak’s speech at the Tory conference last week, Sir Keir told Beth Rigby: “He said something that I agree with, which is that the last few years have been the wrong decisions and we need change.

“I say, spot on, let the country decide the change that it needs. That can be done through a general election.”

Keir Starmer interviewed by Beth Rigby

Mr Sunak made those comments as he justified the controversial axing of the northern leg of HS2.

Asked why he wasn’t putting his plans to the country in a general election to secure a mandate – given he lost the Tory leadership race to Liz Truss last summer before being selected by MPs to replace her – Mr Sunak replied: “Because that’s not what the country wants.”

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However, he insisted he was not scared of an election after months of lagging behind Labour in the polls, saying he believed he could still win.

The next general election must happen by the end of January 2025, but it is thought Mr Sunak will call one sooner – either in the spring or autumn of 2024.

Sir Keir has said his cabinet is primed for one to happen as soon as May and used his speech at the annual party conference to outline his vision for two terms in power, promising a “decade of national renewal” with plans to “rebuild Britain”.

This includes plans to clear the NHS backlog – however, in his interview with Beth Rigby, Sir Keir went further than he has previously by committing to reducing health waiting lists by five million by the end of his first term as prime minister, matching what it was when Labour was last in power.

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He also rejected the suggestion the address was lacking in policy ideas, saying the aim of it was to “create an emotional connection with the future and speak to the country”.

Sir Keir said he has wanted to do that for four years but knew he must change the party first after the turbulent era under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, which ended with the worst election defeat in decades.

“I think we’ve earned the right to a hearing with the country and we’re now inviting people to join us on this,” Sir Keir said.

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