Reports today that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will make a further cut to national insurance in his Budget tomorrow has renewed speculation over the possibility that Rishi Sunak could call a general election in May.

What has fuelled the talk is an article first published in The Times, that Mr Hunt is going to reduce national insurance by a further two percentage points for 27 million workers in a move worth £450 on average.

The Chancellor will make national insurance the central measure in his spring budget after deciding against cutting income tax, according to The Times.

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He will say that the tax cut is worth a total of £900 for the average worker when combined with the two percentage point cut that was announced in the autumn statement.

Appearing on Sky News this morning shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth bet presenter Kay Burley £10 a vote would take place in May.
However, on another show today Conservative minister Greg Hands appeared to rule out a May general election.

So what is the legal position and what is Rishi Sunak saying?
By law, the Prime Minister must call one by January 28 2025.
But shortly after the Christmas break Mr Sunak told journalists his working assumption would be for the vote to take place in the "second half of this year".
His close friend, former Chancellor George Osborne, suggested November 14.
The Sun last month reported that the PM may prefer October.

Why are people thinking the General Election could be in May?
There is some talk in political parties that the election could be in May and strategists want to make sure they are ready and not caught by surprise.
May is often the favoured month for polling day because of its usual fine weather and longer days, and because the school holidays have yet to start meaning people are around to vote and not enjoying a spell far away.

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Significantly, this year May 2 is when council elections are taking place in England.
Mr Osborne was dismissive of a May election back at the beginning of January, but others think it’s still possible.
First Minister Humza Yousaf certainly wasn't ruling it out when he gathered the SNP to the Oran Mor venue in Glasgow's west end near the start of the year to launch his party's campaign and unveil his candidates.

What are the dates being given by the House of Commons?
A briefing published by the Commons library sets out possible dates for the dissolution of Parliament and the corresponding polling day for each Thursday, the traditional day of voting in the UK. It says that if a general election is to be held on May 2, parliament must be dissolved by March 26.

However, for a May 2 election to take place, MPs must agree with the government required to bring a motion to parliament. This process means that if dissolution was to happen on March 26, MPs would need to be told before then.

What have SNP insiders said?
Speaking to The Herald's Unspun last month SNP insiders reckon the crunch deadline is March 15 - next Friday.
Against a slew of polls showing the Conservatives trailing Labour by 20 points, one SNP source told Unspun then: "We are working on the basis it could be May, and we won't take that off the agenda until March 15.
"That will be a week after the Budget on March 6. If the Tories were going to use the Budget as a springboard for the election, then they only have a week or so after the budget to give notice for a May 2 election.
"I don't think there's any prospect of the Tories holding an election in spring that isn't May 2 because that is the date of the English locals. The Tories are going to get gubbed then anyway, so they wouldn't start an election campaign with such negative momentum.
"The thinking is that they would want people to forget [the local election results] for six months before holding a general election."

What do the Conservative think?
Among some Conservatives, the hope is that inflation will have fallen by the early autumn, the PM's plan to deport some migrants to Rwanda will finally have come to fruition, and the party could be seeing the polls move in its favour. 
Mr Sunak's controversial £1,000 bet with TV host Piers Morgan last month that he will have got the first asylum seekers onto planes and off to the African state before the election, also suggests his current thinking is more towards an autumn polling day.
However, other political insiders think Mr Sunak could yet be prompted to hold the election on May 2 because of the risk of being ousted by his own MPs.

What do Labour want?
Sir Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar want an general election as soon as possible.
With Labour a steady 20 points ahead of the Conservatives in a series of opinion polls they are gearing up for power in Downing Street.