23 May, 2024 @ 09:43
2 mins read

Rishi Sunak calls UK general election for July 4: This is how British expats can vote

Sir Keir Starmer's Labour party are widely expected to triumph in the July vote

RISHI Sunak has announced that the UK will head to the ballot box for a general election on July 4.

The Prime Minister made the surprise announcement outside 10 Downing Street on Wednesday following a morning of febrile speculation.

As the rain poured and Sunak’s words were drowned out as nearby protestors loudly played Things Can Only Get Better, the D:Ream song known as the anthem for Tony Blair’s New Labour government, the incumbent PM declared that ‘now is the moment for Britain to choose its future’.

“Only a Conservative government led by me will not put our hard-earned stability at risk”, Sunak claimed, pointing to recent news that the rate of inflation had fallen to 2.3%, its lowest level in three years.

Many experts view the decision to trigger an early snap election as a high stakes gamble which will see Sir Keir Starmer try to win power for the Labour Party after 14 years of Conservative-led government.

Starmer is widely expected to become the nation’s next Prime Minister with Labour commanding a lead of over twenty percentage points in the polls. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to register to vote in UK general elections as a British expat in Spain – and which documents you will need

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is widely expected to become the UK’s next Prime Minister at the General Election thanks to a 20-plus point lead in the polls over Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives. Credit: Cordon Press

Labour are on course to win 44% of the vote, the Conservatives 23%, Reform UK 11%, the Liberal Democrats 10% and the Greens 7%, likely handing Starmer a sizeable majority in Parliament. 

In a televised address following Sunak’s announcement, the Labour leader said: “On July 4 you have the choice and together we can stop the chaos, we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country”.

Labour last won a British general election in 2005, and just five years recorded their worst post-war electoral performance under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

But Starmer, a former lawyer, has sought to clean up his party and has been boosted by support from a public growing increasingly weary and frustrated with Sunak’s Tory government.

The UK Parliament will officially be dissolved on Thursday next week as the six-week long campaign kicks into gear. 

The upcoming election is the first vote to be held in July since 1945 when Labour won a resounding majority under Clement Attlee.

The campaign will also take place in the midst of the Euro 2024 football tournament, with the vote taking place just before the quarter-finals.

The election will notably be the first vote since the repeal of the arbitrary 15-year limit, allowing over three million more British expats who live outside of the UK to be eligible to vote, regardless of how long they’ve been living overseas.

British citizens, eligible Irish citizens and citizens of Crown Dependencies can now register to vote as long as they were previously registered to vote in the UK or were previously resident in the UK.

The implementation of the Elections Act 2022 represents the biggest increase in the British electoral franchise since the introduction of full female suffrage in 1928.

Voters residing outside of the UK will be able to vote by post or by proxy.

For full information on how to register to vote, read this article: Must-read: How British expats can vote in the UK general election this year

The deadline to register to vote will be 12 working days ahead of the election.

Elsewhere, news of the general election sparked concern for the state of the ongoing high-level Gibraltar treaty negotiations

However, Chief Minister Fabio Picardo has assured that the crunch talks will be able to continue.

Ben Pawlowski

Ben joined the Olive Press in January 2024 after a four-month stint teaching English in Paraguay. He loves the adrenaline rush of a breaking news story and the tireless work required to uncover an eye-opening exclusive. He is currently based in Barcelona from where he covers the city, the wider Catalunya region, and the north of Spain. Send tips to [email protected]

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