Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out a July general election, insisting only that the vote would come in the second half of the year. 

There has been renewed speculation that the Prime Minister could go to the palace sooner rather than later, capitalising on the Rwanda legislation passing through Parliament and a second National Insurance cut taking effect this week.

There are even rumours he could announce the vote as soon as tomorrow. 

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Speaking to Sky News, the Tory leader said he would not “say anything more than I’ve already said.”

Back in January, Mr Sunak said his "working assumption" was it would take place in the second half of the year.

Most assumed this would mean October or November, although it could also technically mean a vote as soon as July.

Thursday sees England go to the polls for a slew of mayoral and council elections, with the polls predicting a drubbing for the Tories.

Two of their most high profile politicians, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, could be at risk.   

The Prime Minister told Sir Trevor that “local elections are always difficult for incumbent parties”, as he attacked Labour-run areas and “rising crime in London, rising council tax in Birmingham”.

There's speculation that a poor night could lead to a leadership challenge. Others in the party would want him to go to the country earlier rather than limping on with a divided party.

It has been a difficult weekend for Mr Sunak. On Saturday night an ex-health minister defected to Labour.

Dr Dan Poulter crossed the floor saying the Tories no longer cared about the NHS.

In the interview on Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, recorded before Dr Poulter’s defection, Mr Sunak was asked whether the latter half of 2024 could mean July.

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The Prime Minister said: “I’m not going to say anything more than I’ve already said, I’ve been very clear about that.”

Pressed repeatedly whether he was ruling out July, he said: “I’m not going to do that.

“You’re going to try and draw whatever conclusion you want from what I say. I’m going to always try and say the same thing. You should just listen to what I said, same thing I’ve said all year.”

Mr Sunak also signalled he could wait for economic improvements to come through, in an apparent hint at a poll later in the year.

“I’m determined to make sure that people feel when the election comes that the future is better, that we have turned the corner,” he said.