'All the indicators point towards a May election', Wes Streeting says, as he accuses Sunak of 'squatting' in No. 10

5 March 2024, 19:20

Andrew Marr questions Wes Streeting on when he thinks a general election will be held

By Christian Oliver

Rishi Sunak is likely to call a general election for May, Labour's Was Streeting has claimed, as he said the Prime Minister was effectively "squatting in Downing Street".

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The shadow health secretary said he agreed with his colleague Jonathan Ashworth who earlier today said a May election was the Conservatives' "preferred choice".

The election has to be held by January 28 next year at the very earliest, but it is likely to be this year. Mr Sunak has previously said he was working on the assumption the election would be in the autumn, but rumours have swirled in recent weeks that it could took place in May - in which case it would have to be called soon.

Speaking to LBC's Andrew Marr on Tuesday evening, Mr Streeting said: "All of the indicators point towards May. It should be May.

"I think people are fed up with the idea that Rishi Sunak, for his own personal survival and wanting to clock up two years as prime minister, will squat in Downing Street into the autumn when people are crying out for change."

Calling on Rishi Sunak to head to the polls, Mr Streeting said: "If he genuinely thinks he can offer the change the country needs, ask the people for their permission at an election."

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Rishi Sunak on Friday
Rishi Sunak on Friday. Picture: Alamy

He added: "He has no mandate; Jeremy Hunt has no mandate. These are the two losers in Conservative leadership contests."

Referring to Mr Sunak's predecessor Liz Truss' short tenure in Downing Street, he said: "Rishi Sunak lost to the woman who lost to the lettuce and crashed the economy. So, I think it's time to ask the country."

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Budget announcement Mr Streeting said he expected the government to "nick" Labour's flagship non-dom tax policy.

The loophole lets foreign nationals who live in Britain but are domiciled overseas avoid paying UK tax on overseas income or capital gains.

Mr Streeting said Mr Hunt's anticipated adoption of the proposal was "the mother of all humiliating U-turns" because the Conservative government "have spent years telling us this isn't a credible policy".

Labour previously announced its intention to scrap the non-dom scheme to fund "two million more appointments a year in the NHS".

The party says this would have been achieved by using the money to train more doctors and nurses. But some have cautioned against scrapping the loophole.

Wes Streeting
Wes Streeting. Picture: Alamy

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the 37,000 people who claim the exception still pay £6 billion in UK taxes between them. If the loophole were removed, much of this £6 billion in tax revenue might go too, the think tank said.

Mr Hunt has previously signalled he favours the move, saying in 2022: "I would rather wealthy foreigners spent their money in Britain.”

Mr Streeting said: "We are committed to policies we've spelled out to be funded by the non-dom tax status, we will have to look at other ways of funding those pledges."

George Galloway hits back at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘lie’ over divisive election claims

"One thing I would say is it seems like the noise from the chancellor is: 'We're terribly clever. We've pinched some of Labour's policies, even though it's going to make our party completely daft and inconsistent. Haven't we pulled a fast one'.

"Everyone in Westminster knows Rachel Reeves is a chess player. She is already several moves ahead of the chancellor.

"It will cause us no grief whatsoever," he said.

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