Rishi Sunak has been accused of “running scared” after he ruled out holding a general election on May 2.

Speculation that the Prime Minister would go to the country on the same day as the local elections in England had ramped up in recent days.

But on Thursday night, when asked by ITV News West Country whether he was preparing to call a snap vote on the first Thursday in May, he said: “There won’t be a general election on that day.”

The under-fire Conservative leader did not rule out a poll in the spring or summer.

However, at the start of the year, he did say that his “working assumption” was that the vote would be in the second half of the year.

The latest Mr Sunak could hold the election is January 2025.

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Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, said: “After 14 years of Tory failure, the British public have the right to expect an election to be called by 26 March and held on 2 May.

“Until the day to call it has passed, we are prepared for the election to take place on the usual day in the election cycle. Rishi Sunak should stop squatting in Downing Street and give the country what it desperately needs – a chance for change with a Labour government.”

On their social media, Labour shared a photoshopped picture of the Prime Minister dressed as a chicken, with the comment, “name the date”.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the comments showed the Prime Minister was “running scared.”

He said: “He knows that voters will not put up with this Conservative government’s failure on the NHS and the cost of living crisis any longer.

“That is why lifelong Conservative voters have switched to the Liberal Democrats in their droves and will vote for a hardworking local champion, rather than another Conservative MP who will take them for granted once again.”

Mr Sunak’s comments came as former cabinet minister Sir Brandon Lewis became the 61st Tory MP to say he will leave Parliament at the next election.

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Speaking on his Political Currency podcast, former Chancellor George Osborne said his old party were in a “spiral.”

He said: “Another big moment has passed - the Budget - and it has not shifted Tory fortunes. The party is currently heading for election defeat… the only way to lead the Conservative Party successfully is by having a poll lead.

“In politics, you get these spirals, which is when you’re weak or when people don’t think you’re going to succeed politically at an election, the patronage starts to dissipate, the authority goes, people say ‘well he’s not going to be around much longer, I need to hitch my wagon to one of the leadership contenders’.

“That feeds on itself and that’s where you get this downward spiral where you get more and more undermining of authority, which makes the Government look even weaker.”