UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak has called an early UK general election for Thursday, July 4th.

Outside Downing Street, he said he would go to the polls this summer as he bids to win a fifth term in office for the Conservative Party. The surprise announcement overturned expectations of an autumn poll, which might have given the Tories a better chance of closing the gap with Labour.

Shadow Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said that it was time for change, with the Labour Party posting large leads in national opinion polls. He insisted that it has a fully organised campaign ready to go.

Parliament will now be suspended tomorrow (Friday 24th) before it is formally shut down on Thursday next week ahead of an official five-week election campaign. It means there are only two days to pass any outstanding legislation - a move which will mean some of the government's measures will have to be abandoned.

October or November had previously been thought more likely for an election date. But this will be the UK's first July election, since 1945, to be confirmed.

PM Sunak referenced the inflation figures as he announced the election date in Downing Street, in a sign he hopes to frame his campaign around a narrative of economic recovery after a period of rising living costs. He said that the fall in inflation, along with the UK's emergence from recession earlier this year, were proof that the plan and priorities he set out were working.

There was confusion in some parts of the Conservative Party about Mr Sunak decision, one Tory MP saying: "I just don't understand it.

"The economy is improving. Why not give that more time to bed in?"

One senior minister said: "If the whole point was to remind the public that he was Mr Furlough, why not do the speech inside from the same briefing room?" They added: "Labour MPs must be happy.

“We're not. And that tells a story."

Criticising the Conservatives' management of public services, the NHS and record on tackling crime, Sir Keir argued: “It’s time for change," before adding: “Britain deserves better than that."

SNP leader John Swinney, who only recently took over as Scotland's First Minister, said that the election was a chance to "remove the Tory government and put Scotland first," whilst Lib Dem leader, Sir Ed Davey, said that it would be a chance to "kick Rishi Sunak's appalling Conservative government out of office." Greens Co-Leader, Carla Denyer, said her party was aiming to elect at least four new MPs.

Reform UK leader, Richard Tice, said that the Tories had "broken Britain,” but Labour would "bankrupt Britain." Mr. Sunak's statement is the start of weeks of general election campaigning for the 650 seats in Parliament.

It will be fought on the first set of new constituency boundaries since 2010, redrawn to reflect population changes since then, and will be the first where voters have to show ID. The Royal Family has postponed engagements, which may be seen as appearing to divert attention or distract from the election campaign.

Buckingham Palace said that the King and Queen sent their apologies to those who were affected.