Rishi Sunak rules out 2 May general election as report shows Commons working hours have fallen to a 25-year low – UK politics live | Politics

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Labour accuses Sunak of ‘squatting in Downing Street’ after PM rules out election on 2 May

The Labour party has been predicting a May election for months and last night Pat McFadden, the party’s national campaign campaign coordinator, put out a statement saying that, despite Rishi Sunak saying there won’t be on on 2 May, Labour will keep preparing for one until it becomes technically impossible. He 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. The prime minister needs to finally come clean with the public and name the date of the election now.

For an election to happen on 2 May, parliament would have to be dissolved on Tuesday 26 March.

Rishi Sunak rules out 2 May general election as report shows Commons working hours have fallen to a 25-year low

Good morning. Rishi Sunak has ruled out calling a general election on 2 May. This is no great surprise to anyone working in Westminster (despite what the Labour party claims), but worth knowing anyway, particularly for journalists with holiday plans for April. Here is the clip.

Sunak does not have to call an election until January next year and in normal circumstances a prime minister could defend putting off polling day on the grounds the government still has plenty of legislation to pass.

But a report by Lucy Fisher in today’s Financial Times has killed that as an excuse. Fisher says the average amount of time the Commons spends sitting every working day is now at its lowest level for a quarter of a century. She says:

The average duration of a Commons sitting day in the current parliamentary session, which began in November, has been 7 hours and 9 minutes, a record low since New Labour came to power in 1997, the FT found …

On Tuesday last week the Commons adjourned at 3.53pm, while on one Monday earlier this month almost five hours were dedicated to an unfocused “general debate on farming”, critics pointed out …

Between 1997 and 2023 the average was 7 hours and 58 minutes — or 49 minutes longer than in the current session, the analysis showed. The peak was 9 hours and 15 minutes in the 1998-99 session of Tony Blair’s first administration.

The sitting hours figures do not capture all the work MPs do; most MPs spend a lot more than seven hours a day working, and almost no one spends all or most of their day in the chamber.

But if the government is passing a lot of legislation, the Commons will sit more. As Fisher points out, these figures are indicative of the fact that MPs have fewer bills to pass than in a normal parliamentary session.

Lucy Powell, Labour’s shadow Commons leader, told the FT the government was “out of steam” and “failing to deliver on important issues” such as renters reform and rail modernisation, “while making parliament clock off early day in, day out”. And the Liberal Democrats’ Wera Hobhouse told the FT the figures confirmed Sunak was presiding over “a lame-duck government”.

Here is the FT chart illustrating the figures.

Commons sitting hours Photograph: FT

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: MPs started debating a private member’s bill from the Conservative MP Selaine Saxby that would ban puppy smuggling. Liz Truss is hoping that her private member’s bill, that would in effect ban social transitioning at school, will be debated. But it is third on the list for today, after Saxby’s and a bill from Labour’s Sarah Champion about public procurement, and so it may not be reached.

Morning: Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, are on a visit in the north-east of England.

10.30am: Richard Tice, the Reform UK leader, and Lee Anderson, his new MP, campaign in Ashfield.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

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