General election 2024: Live reaction and analysis as Labour campaign begins

Keir Starmer
Photo: @Keir_Starmer

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called a general election for July 4, requesting permission from the King to dissolve Parliament in a gamble to cling on for another term despite Labour’s strong lead in the polls.

Sunak centred his pitch on economic stability at the Downing Street lectern on Wednesday night, but Labour leader Keir Starmer was quick to release his own video saying “only a changed Labour Party will get Britain’s future back”.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves posted three words on X: “Bring it on.” Starmer posted just one: “Change.”

Keep refreshing this page for all the latest updates and reaction from Downing Street, the wider media and voices across Labour, plus analysis of what it means for Keir Starmer’s party.

7.35pm: Thank you for following our live updates

We are bringing our live blog on the announcement of the general election to a close, but we will have plenty of coverage of the start of the election campaign – so stay tuned!

7.30pm: Support our election coverage

Labour needs all the support we can muster to send the Tories packing and make history. That’s why we need you to chip in so we can deliver the general election campaign coverage the Labour family and the country deserves.

We don’t have a billionaire owner or party funding and journalism is expensive – so please take two minutes to give what you can to sustain our work and become a LabourList supporter.

Click here to donate now

7.25pm: The last July election…

The last general election in July took place after the end of the Second World War in Europe on July 5 1945.

Labour’s Clement Attlee became Prime Minister, defeating Winston Churchill in a landslide election victory.

While Churchill sought to use his wartime support as part of his campaign to keep the Tories in office, Attlee was sen as more competent and offered a vision for the postwar rebuilding of the country.

Labour won 393 of the 640 seats in the House of Commons, up 239 from the last general election.

7.15pm: When will new Parliament sit?

Parliament will be prorogued on Friday, May 24, with dissolution taking place next Thursday, May 30.

After the general election, the new Parliament will sit for the first time on Tuesday, July 9. The State Opening of Parliament will then take place on Wednesday, July 17.

7.00pm: What do the polls say?

The latest polls put Labour between 16 and 27 points ahead of the Conservatives. A poll released earlier today, by Survation, puts Labour on 48%, with the Conservatives on 27%.

Electoral Calculus’s monthly prediction, last updated on April 27, forecasts Labour will win 472 seats, with the Conservatives on just 85, the Liberal Democrats with 50 and the SNP 19.

6.40pm: ‘Only a vote for Labour will put Britain back on track’

Peter Lamb, Labour’s candidate for the bellwether constituency of Crawley, has said the general election is “our chance to build a better future for Britain”.

In a video on social media, he said: “We need a Labour government that’s going to get the NHS back on its feet. It’s going to switch on Great British Energy. It’s going to ensure that we have safer streets and it’s going to break down barriers to opportunity.”

Crawley, which has voted with the winning party at every general election since its creation in 1983, was the most marginal constituency in the 2005 general election –  with Labour’s Laura Moffatt re-elected by just 37 votes.

6.30pm: Make-up of Parliament ahead of election

With voters set to go to the polls in six weeks’ time, here is a look at the current political make-up of the House of Commons.

The Conservatives currently have 344 seats, down from the 365 they won at the 2019 election. Labour has 205 seats, up three from the last general election. The SNP is the third largest party with 43 seats, followed by the Liberal Democrats with 15.

6.20pm: ‘Time to kick vandals from office’, says FBU

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack has said the union will fight to win a Labour government that will reverse “authoritarian attacks on unions”.

He said: “Tory rule has brought us nothing but poverty, chaos and a divisive agenda of scapegoating.

“Now is the time to kick these vandals from office and bury them for a generation.”

6.10pm: Read Keir Starmer speech in full

Read Keir Starmer’s first speech of the general election in full here

6.05pm: ‘Don’t get distracted and get Labour’s message out’

Writing for LabourList, former Labour chief press officer Adrian McMenamin has urged party activists to not be complacent and focus on getting Labour’s message out.

He wrote: “There is a reason why people keep saying the only poll that matters is one on the final Thursday: the simple merit of truth. The time you spend rage tweeting or doom scrolling can be much better used getting Labour’s message out.”

Read his op-ed in full here

6.00pm: ‘We can start to rebuild Britain’

In his speech earlier this evening, Keir Starmer said that voters will have a choice to “stop the chaos” on July 4.

He said: “Together we can stop the chaos, turn the page, and we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country.”

5.53pm: ‘Country first, party second’

Ending his speech, Keir Starmer said that a Labour government would bring about change with a “new spirit of service: country first, party second”.

He said he gets voter “cynicism”, but said with patience, determination and service, Labour can unlock the country’s pride and potential.

5.50pm: ‘A vote for Labour is a vote for stability’

Starmer warned that another five years of Conservative rule will allow the Tories to “be entitled to carry on exactly as they are – nothing will change”.

He said: “A vote for Labour is a vote for stability, for a politics that treads more lightly… and stops the chaos.”

5.45pm: Keir Starmer speech after election announcement

Keir Starmer is now addressing party supporters following the announcement that a general election will take place on July 4.

He said: “Over the…last 4 years we’ve changed the Labour party…all we ask now humbly is to do exactly the same for our country.”

5.41pm: Momentum to back ‘socialist’ Labour MPs

Left campaign group Momentum’s chair Kate Dove has just released a statement.

“The first priority is to kick Rishi Sunak out of Downing Street and elect a Labour Government instead to bring our railways back into public ownership and implement a New Deal for Working People. This must be just the first step to the comprehensive social and economic transformation the country is crying out for.

“Our role is clear. In this election Momentum will mobilise to keep out the Tories and elect socialist and trade unionist Labour MPs in their stead, from Zarah Sultana to Ian Lavery, John McDonnell to Apsana Begum. Bring it on.”

5.40pm: ‘Bring it on’, says Rachel Reeves

5.33pm: Anas Sarwar’s message to Scotland

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar was also quick out of the blocks with this:


5.30pm: Jon Curtice says it’s an ‘election for Labour to win’

The leading psephologist is on the BBC already…calling Sunak eithe very brave or foolhardy.

He notes the SNP are polling behind Labour in Scotland, suggesting news of a campaign just after the shambles of Yousaf’s resignation won’t be welcomed within the nationalist camp.

5.28pm: Labour quick out of the blocks on first GE campaign video

Labour didn’t muck around…click here for the first video of the campaign.

Starmer said the answer to the difficulty the country finds itself in is not another five years of Conservative government and said “only a changed Labour Party will get Britain’s future back”.

There’s a big emphasis on one message:

Gen Kitchen, Wellingborough’s new MP, was also fast reacting…

5.25pm:  Things can only get wetter

He’s drenched. Not a good omen for Sunak.

5.21pm: The bits of Sunak’s Tory record he wants to highlight and fight this campaign on

For a clue of what could dominate this campaign on the Tory side at least, Sunak has said a lot, claiming that the Conservatives have delivered on:

  • Tacking inflation
  • Controlling debt
  • Cutting workers’ taxes
  • Increasing the state pension
  • Record funding into the NHS
  • Reforming education
  • Prioritising energy security
  • Upping defence spending to 2.5% of GDP
  • Investing more in local transport over high-speed two
  • Planning ‘comprehensive’ welfare reform
  • Stopping the boats

5.20pm: How Sunak is framing his general election pitch

“This election will take place at a time when the world is more dangerous than it has been since the end of the cold,” says Sunak.

He talks about the Middle East, extremists underming our values here, China, and “uncertain times” that call for a ” clear plan and bold action”.

5.18pm: ‘Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future’

It’s happening!

Sunak says: “Now is the moment for Britain to choose its future to decide whether we want to build on the progress we have made, or risk going back to square one with no plan and no certainty.”

“Earlier today, I spoke with His Majesty the King to request the dissolution of Parliament. The king has granted this request, and we will have a general election on the fourth of July,” adds Sunak.

5.15pm: Sunak sets out his record and pitch around economic stability

Rishi Sunak is talking about when he first came into office, saying he came into power above all to restore economic stability.

He claims we’ve reached “two major milestones”, showing “anything is possible”.

“Our economy is now growing faster than anyone predicted, outpacing Germany, France and the United States. And this morning, it was confirmed that inflation is back to normal. ”


5.13pm: The lectern is out…and Sunak is addressing the country


5.09pm: There’s never been a more important time to join Labour

As Labour MP Rachel Hopkins notes, this is the time…

5.05pm: The election countdown…

Here’s how long there is to go unless Sunak bottles it…


5pm: Can things only get better?

My colleague tells me protesters in Westminster are playing ‘Things Can Only Get Better’…

Several  media outlets had reported a Sunak statement was a dead cert for 5pm…but now 5pm has come and gone. But perhaps it’s just down to the rain, as they way up whether he delays or makes an address inside instead…

4.50pm: ‘Moment of truth’ for Labour but polls dismal for Conservatives

A BBC journalist just called this a “moment of truth” for Labour, and it really is if we get what everyone’s now expecting.

Commentator Steve Richards suggests though that “no previous PM has called an election so far behind in the polls..and earlier than necessary…I can see why Sunak’s done it..but it’s quite something to call an election in such a bleak context.”

4.43pm: This looks like it’s really happening

The BBC’s chief political correspondent has joined news agency AFP in calling it, and suggesting Parliament will be dissolved next week. Sources have told The Guardian and others the same…

Chris Mason of the BBC says we are “moments away from a lectern moment” – but weather permitting, perhaps it will be inside…

4.38pm: What about candidates not yet picked?

Asked about LabourList’s revelation today that more than 100 seats still don’t have candidates in place, a party spokesman said it was “absolutely” something the party could organise quickly if a GE happens.

But former government adviser and The Power Test podcast co-host Sam Freedman has raised concerns about a potential rush of selections as the election campaign gets underway.

4.34pm: Labour says it’s ready to go

The Labour Party has a “fully organised and operational campaign ready to go” as soon as the Prime Minister calls a general election, according to a party spokesperson.

A party official told journalists in Westminster on Wednesday the manifesto was also ready.

4.32pm: Watch live coverage from Downing Street

Here is the latest via Sky News live outside Number 1o, where if we are to get an election, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will likely speak at a lectern very soon…

4.25pm: Top reporters predict July general election is on…

A string of senior UK political journalists are now saying Prime Minister Rishi Sunak iwill announce a general election for July 4 at around 5pm.

Ministers have been arriving in Downing Street for a Cabinet meeting in the past hour.

The election will be the first to take place in July since 1945, when Labour’s Clement Attlee secured a landslide majority following the end of the Second World War.

4.23pm: Labour way ahead in the polls

Current polling suggests Labour go into the campaign as favourites, with some poll showing a lead over the Conservatives of around 20 points. But many fear the polls will narrow, the media narrative may shift and present sentiment will be no guarantee of how voters cast their ballot on polling day.

Read more of our general election coverage here.

If you have anything to share that we should be investigating or promotiong about the election, either on record or strictly anonymously, contact us at 

Sign up to LabourList’s morning email too for a briefing everything Labour, every weekday morning. 

If you can help sustain our work through a monthly donation, become one of our supporters here.

And if you or your organisation might be interested in partnering with us on sponsored events or content, email

More from LabourList


We provide our content free, but providing daily Labour news, comment and analysis costs money. Small monthly donations from readers like you keep us going. To those already donating: thank you.

If you can afford it, can you join our supporters giving £10 a month?

And if you’re not already reading the best daily round-up of Labour news, analysis and comment…


Exit mobile version