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U.K.'s Liberal Democrats try to force early election with no confidence motion

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In the U.K., there are growing calls for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to call a national election this summer after his party suffered heavy losses in last week's local elections. NPR's Fatima Al-Kassab reports from London.

FATIMA AL-KASSAB, BYLINE: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under mounting pressure after a string of defeats in last week's city council elections, which produced the worst results for his ruling Conservative Party in 40 years. Sunak admitted to reporters it was a bruising set of results for his party.

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PRIME MINISTER RISHI SUNAK: Obviously, it's disappointing to lose good hard working Conservative councilors and...

AL-KASSAB: In the U.K., elections have to be held every five years, so Sunak has to call one before January. He's previously said he'll hold off until the second half of this year. But many now want him to call one sooner, including now the U.K.'s third-largest party, the Liberal Democrats. They promised on Monday to submit a vote of no confidence in Sunak's government, to force an election in June. Their leader, Ed Davey, said in a video posted to social media that the local election results were proof that the country wants change.

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ED DAVEY: Rishi Sunak may stay squatting in Downing Street, but the Liberal Democrats' general election campaign starts today.

AL-KASSAB: If Sunak loses the vote of no confidence, he would have to ask the king to dissolve Parliament, which would trigger a national election. The prime minister may still survive. It's unclear if or when the motion would be put to a vote, and his Conservatives have enough seats in Parliament to defeat it. But the pressure is increasing, including from members of Sunak's own party. They are bracing themselves for what many pollsters predict will be the end of 14 years of Conservative rule in the U.K., whenever the election actually takes place. Fatima Al-Kassab, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Fatima Al-Kassab
[Copyright 2024 NPR]