At 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday 22 May, Rishi Sunak announced that the King had granted permission for the dissolution of Parliament. He named the official date for the UK’s general election as Thursday 4 July. The announcement came as Sunak faced mounting pressure to name the date, following the Conservative’s worst performance during the May local elections. 

In his speech, Sunak spoke of his “successes” as Chancellor of the Exchequer during the COVID-19 pandemic such as the furlough scheme and his “successes” as Prime Minister such as inflation returning to “normal”. Many speculate that this economic success influenced the PM’s decision to call an election. 

As Sunak gave his speech outside the historical No.10 door, he battled against D:Ream’s “Things Can Only Get Better” blaring from protesters’ speakers, which has been known as a Labour campaign song used by the Blair campaign in 1997. Sunak ended his speech vowing to “fight for every vote… earn your trust” and “deliver a secure future for you, your family and our United Kingdom.”

Following the announcement, the Royal Family issued a statement announcing the scale-back of royal engagements whilst the election campaign is ongoing. Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, began his campaign immediately with the simple slogan “Change” kicking off what is to be weeks of political campaigning by all parties. The Green Party co-leader, Carla Denyer, launched the Green campaign, stating that “we’re aiming to get a handful of Green MPs elected” following the fivefold increase of Green local councillors this May. 

Conservative MPs are still not happy with Sunak’s split-decision, with some Tories reportedly plotting to call off the election by replacing Sunak as leader before the dissolution of Parliament. 

University of Sussex students are strongly encouraged to actively engage with both local and general elections, with a specific ‘Register to Vote’ page on Sussex Direct for all students. Most students registering at the University address will be voting for the Brighton Pavilion constituency. Since the announcement on 22 May, Brighton Pavilion MP candidates have begun actively campaigning. 

The Brighton and Hove Labour Party candidate, Tom Gray, has begun active canvassing beginning Thursday 23 May with his rhetoric “Let’s get Britain’s Future Back!” His main priorities are cost of living, support for children across education and healthcare, climate change, happy and healthy living and business support. 

At the time of writing, the Conservatives have yet to announce a candidate running for Brighton Pavilion. The announcement in the previous 2019 general election came late into the campaign too, with Emma Hogan being selected six days after the formal dissolution of Parliament in 2019. 

Most notably for Brighton Pavilion is the standing down of Caroline Lucas after thirteen years representing Brighton in Parliament. Chosen to replace her for the only contested Green Party seat in Westminster is former co-leader of the party, Sian Berry. Berry is campaigning to keep the “unique voice in Parliament” that the Green Party brings and is aiming to protect the only Green Party seat in this year’s election. 

University students are able to register to vote both at their home address and their university address and are therefore entitled to vote at either address so long as only one vote is cast. There is a simple process to being able to vote in July, here is a simple step-by-step as to what you need to do to be able to have your voice heard on July 4.

1. Register to vote! 

You can register to vote using the link: Register to vote on the Government website. You can also find a paper form attached on the website if you would like to register via paper. You will be asked for your National Insurance number, however if you do not have this you will still be able to register. 

2. Decide how you want to vote!

As a student you are entitled to choose either your home or university address to vote from. You are also able to vote in person, by mail or by proxy. 

3. Vote!

In-person voting – this takes place at your local polling station, this location will be confirmed and sent to your address on your ballot card. Importantly, the arrival of new legislation means that voters need to provide a suitable form of ‘Voter ID’. This is indescribably important as without picture ID, you will be unable to vote. If you are unable to provide a form of Voter ID, and want to vote, see the link to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate. 

Postal voting – you can apply online for a postal voting using the link: postal vote on the Government website. Once applied, in the week leading up to the election, you will be sent a ballot paper to fill out and post back to your polling station before the election. 

Proxy voting – if you are unable to vote by mail or in person, you can apply for a proxy vote at least 6 days before polling day using the link: proxy vote whereby you can name someone else to go to the polling station for you. 

Sunak has officially named the date of the next General Election as July 4 2024. Be prepared. Get your voice heard.

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