A senior Conservative has urged Rishi Sunak to call an early election to minimise Tory losses at the polls.
Lord Finkelstein, a member of the House of Lords and former senior advisor, said May 2024 might be the “best moment” to go to electorate.
Recounting his experience of advising John Major on the timing of the 1997 election, the Tory peer said he now believed an earlier election would have made the defeat “less severe”.
“The hope was that something might turn up. Instead voters simply became more irritated,” he wrote in an article for the Times newspaper.
“The mistake is to think that a bad moment can’t become worse. Or that there is really little difference between losing power by a little and losing it by a lot.
“There is a vast difference for the Conservatives, and for Sunak personally, in keeping the swing to Labour as low as possible. The hard thing is that this may mean calling an election knowing it almost certainly means losing power.”
Lord Finkelstein said that the task for Mr Sunak was “minimising the size of defeat” and potentially depriving Labour of a majority.
The intervention comes amid uncertainty about when the next general election will be held.
Under electoral rules Rishi Sunak does not have to call an election until January 2025 – five years from the day the current parliament first met on 17 December 2019, plus the time required for an election campaign.
Local elections across much of England are scheduled for 2 May 2024, with police and crime commissioner elections also taking place in England and Wales.
The Tories have been well behind Labour in the polls since Liz Truss’s disastrous mini budget, with the opposition around 20 points ahead in most surveys.
The latest Deltapoll survey of voters from 14–17 July found Labour on 48 per cent of the vote, with the Conservatives on 24 per cent, Lib Dems on 11 per cent, Greens on 5 per cent, and Reform on 6 percent.