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Live Reporting

Edited by Nadia Ragozhina

All times stated are UK

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  1. Thanks for following along

    Sunak at the lectern soaking wet

    Thank you for joining us on the day Rishi Sunak took Westminster by surprise and announced the country will go to the polls on 4 July.

    You can read, watch and listen to some of our best analysis at the links below:

    We'll be back early doors on Thursday to bring you the latest on the campaign. Goodnight.

  2. Key election moments to watch for tomorrow

    As we prepare to close our live coverage this evening, here's a reminder that after a day of rampant speculation about a possible election date announcement, the prime minister made a statement in front of No 10 confirming a general election will be held on 4 July.

    Speaking at the Conservative campaign launch later on Wednesday, he promised voters a "secure future".

    Technically speaking, the election campaign won't officially be under way until the end of next week - but that doesn't mean we won't be hearing lots from some of the key players tomorrow.

    Here's what we'll be watching out for on Thursday.

    • Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are both expected to appear in public on Friday, the first of many stops both will make over the coming weeks
    • Sunak and Labour's campaign coordinator Pat McFadden are both due to be interviewed on BBC Breakfast and Radio 4's Today programme
    • Parliament will sit and it should become clearer which last minute pieces of legislation will be rushed through ahead of the dissolution
    • We're expecting to hear more from the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Reform UK about their election plans
    • Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has told GB News he will make a decision on whether or not he will stand for Reform UK after thinking about it overnight
  3. Questions over PM’s pledge to terror attack victim

    Dominic Casciani

    Home and legal correspondent

    Today is the seventh anniversary of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack which saw 22 people killed when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a homemade device at the Ariana Grande concert.

    One of those killed was Martyn Hett. His mother Figen Murray has just walked 200 miles (321 km) to London from Manchester.

    She did this to remind the government that it's repeatedly promised a tough law to force entertainment venues to improve their security, making another such attack less likely. The counter terrorism world thinks this law will protect people - she’s backed by the UK’s top terrorism police officers.

    “We deserve a date,” she said as she arrived at Downing Street.

    But the plan, known as Martyn's Law, remains in “draft”. The government has not asked MPs to vote on a final version.

    Brendan Cox, the widower of another terrorism victim, Jo Cox MP, has tweeted a picture of Rishi Sunak with Figen Murray, apparently taken after PMQs. He says the PM pledged the legislation would be introduced “before the summer recess”.

    Cox says: “How is that reconcilable with knowing he was about to call an election?”

    Parliament must be dissolved by 30 May. It won’t return until after the 4 July election - and is then scheduled to rise again for the summer three weeks later.

    Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary meeting Figen Murray
  4. The issues that matter to some voters

    Peter Gillibrand

    BBC Newsbeat

    In Birmingham, Ciaran and Jay react to the news a general election has been called with "Thank God".

    It’s safe to say their minds have already been made up – at least when it comes to who they won’t be voting for.

    "The Tories have done nothing but cause damage," Jay, 26, tells BBC Newsbeat.

    They both hope to see LGBT rights on the agenda during the campaign.

    "I would like to see more of a helping hand to the communities that truly need it," says Ciaran, 28, adding he’d also like to see more done to tackle homelessness.

    An election is "definitely needed," Jay says.

    Ciaran and Jay
  5. ‘Everyone’s so disillusioned with politics’

    Peter Gillibrand

    BBC Newsbeat

    Georgie Davies who’s out braving the rain with her friend Lara Toomey

    We’ve been out getting reaction to the news that prime minister Rishi Sunak has called a general election.

    “Brilliant,” says Georgie Davies who’s braving the rain with her friend Lara Toomey.

    The 21-year-old says she’ll definitely be heading to the polling station – even if her peers might not be.

    "You need to hear from all sides," she tells BBC Newsbeat.

    “And I think young people have a very different opinion to the older generations.

    “Because everyone’s so disillusioned with politics, no one really cares, they think it’s not going to count.

    "But I think they should care."

  6. BBC Verify

    Anthony Reuben

    Record sums into the NHS?

    Here's another claim Rishi Sunak made during one of his speeches today. Listing the achievements of his government, Rishi Sunak said he had "put record amounts of funding into our NHS".

    The health budget for England was £187bn in the year to the end of March 2024. That’s up on the total of £182bn in the previous year.

    That was a record in cash terms, but if rising prices are taken into account, that represents a 3.2% fall.

    It’s expected to increase to £192bn in the current year, but again, that’s likely to be a cut after rising prices have been taken into account, according to the Health Foundation.

    Nonetheless, health spending is considerably higher than it was before the pandemic, even after adjusting for rising prices.

  7. BBC Verify

    Lucy Gilder

    Rwanda scheme hasn’t stopped the boats so far

    Talking about his government’s record on immigration, Rishi Sunak said: “We are stopping the boats with our Rwanda partnership”.

    The plan – to process the claims of some asylum seekers in Rwanda rather than in the UK – is meant to act as a deterrent but to date no asylum seeker has been forcibly sent there.

    There is no clear evidence that the policy is “stopping” small boat crossings now.

    Despite arrivals falling by a third between 2022 and 2023, crossings this year are at a record high compared to the same period in previous years.

    Between 1 January and 21 May 2024, more than 9,800 people crossed.

    The first flights to Rwanda are expected to take off by July.

    Chart showing the number of people crossing the English Channel 2020-2024
  8. How MPs turned to BBC reporter amid election gossip

    On a wild day of rumour and speculation in Westminster, some MPs were hoping the BBC's political correspondent Henry Zeffman could fill them in on what was going on.

    Watch his summary of a hectic day in British politics below.

    Video content

    Video caption: How MPs turned to BBC for clarity on election gossip
  9. BBC Verify

    Ben Chu

    Is the UK economy outpacing Germany, France and the US?

    A bar chart showing Q1 GDP figures: Canada 0.6 France 0.2 Germany 0.2 Italy 0.3 United  Kingdom 0.6 United  States 0.4

    During several of his speeches today, Rishi Sunak has said that "our economy is outpacing Germany, France and the United States".

    It's correct that in the first three months of 2024 the UK economy grew by 0.6% relative to the final three months of 2023.

    That was more than the US (0.4%), Italy (0.3%), France (0.2%) and Germany (0.2%) over the same period. It was level with Canada, also on 0.6%.

    But over the second half of 2023 the UK economy contracted by 0.4%, while the US economy grew by 1.2%.

  10. Over 100 MPs standing down - could more step back?

    Oscar Bentley

    Political Research Unit

    107 MPs have now announced they won't be standing at the next election.

    That ticked up by one this morning when former DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who currently sits as an independent, confirmed he was stepping down through his solicitor. Donaldson has been charged with rape and 10 other historic sex offences.

    Later on this afternoon, following Rishi Sunak's announcement of the date of the election, Holly Lynch, the Opposition Deputy Chief Whip announced she was standing down at the next election.

    That number is higher than recent elections in 2019 (74), 2017 (31) and 2015 (90), but much lower than in 2010, when 149 stood down. Most of those standing down are Conservatives, with 65 Tories not standing again.

    Labour has 20 MPs standing down, the SNP and independents MPs both have nine.

    That’s similar to both 2010 and 1997, where the majority of MPs standing down were from the governing party, facing bleak polls following a long period of government.

    The number could well tick up in the next few days as MPs who were putting off their decision decide not to stand again.

  11. Electioncast: IT’S ON!

    Newscast logo

    Adam Fleming is joined by Laura Kuenssberg, Faisal Islam and Alex Forsyth to discuss Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a July election. Newscast will be keeping listeners up to date every day throughout the election campaign.

    You can listen to the latest episode here.

  12. Sunak kicks off campaign with familiar speech

    Hannah Miller

    Political correspondent

    The first Conservative campaign event at the Excel centre was essentially a photo opportunity - a repetition of many of the lines the prime minister tested out during his Downing Street pitch to the nation.

    The party members who surrounded their leader with placards were quickly whisked away afterwards, with little opportunity to find out what any of them make of the timing of this election or their party’s prospects.

    Rishi Sunak will be grateful that at least this time it was indoors.

  13. Campaign will have to compete with footy and festivals

    England fans

    Rishi Sunak's decision to go for an election campaign during the summer means all of the parties will be vying for the public's attention at a time when there will be plenty of other distractions.

    Perhaps most significantly, from 14 June onwards millions will be fixated on the Euro 2024 football tournament in Germany.

    Both England and Scotland are competing - and if they progress, they could play their quarter final games less than 24 hours after polls close.

    The 4 July election will fall a few days after the Wimbledon tennis tournament kicks off, and between 26 and 30 June, it's possible that the 200,000 festivalgoers at Glastonbury might not quite find the time to tune in for a party political broadcast.

    On top of all that, there are the usual summer getaways and plans that people will already have in the diary - especially in Scotland, where school holidays will have begun for some.

  14. Sunak and Starmer roll out pitches after date set

    In the last few hours we've heard from both main party leaders and had all the key dates confirmed. If you're just joining us, here's what you've missed.

    • After a day of rampant speculation that Rishi Sunak was on the verge of announcing a summer general election, the prime minister made a statement in front of No 10 confirming it will be held on 4 July
    • He spoke through heavy rain and loud music being blasted outside Downing Street to recount what he said were the achievements of his government, including today's fall in inflation to 2.3%
    • Speaking at the Conservative campaign launch later on Wednesday, he promised voters a "secure future"
    • Shortly afterwards, we heard from Sir Keir Starmer, who said the country was ready for change and set out his priorities, including on the NHS and border security
    • The Labour leader said the UK has a chance "to stop the chaos" and "turn the page"
    • Parliament will be prorogued on 24 May and will then be formally dissolved on 30 May, Downing Street confirmed
  15. King cancels events after election date set

    Sean Coughlan

    BBC News royal correspondent

    King Charles

    The King has cancelled all his planned visits this week, including a trip to a project in Crewe helping families in poverty by providing food, shoes and furniture.

    This has been postponed as the King’s schedule is changed to avoid any trips that could “distract” from the election campaign.

    However, the King will still go to big planned national events like the D-Day commemorations next month and royal events like garden parties will continue.

    There’s a Japanese state visit due during the election campaign, but any decisions on cancelling that will be taken by the Foreign Office.

    The King’s reign has already had two prime ministers - Liz Truss and Sunak - but this will be his first general election campaign as monarch.

  16. Labour 'want people to think election over before it's begun' - Sunak

    Sunak says Labour want people to think "this election is over before it's even begun", but says the British people do not want to be "taken for granted".

    He ends by saying he will take his vision of a "secure future" to every corner of the country and telling activists "let's get out and do this".

    Sunak hugs his wife and several members of the cabinet before departing the stage.

  17. Post update

    Sunak goes on to say that this election is taking place at a time where the world is more dangerous than it has been at any point since the end of the Cold War.

    “Putin’s Russia is waging a brutal war in Ukraine, and he’ll not stop there if he succeeds,” he says.

    “In the Middle East, the forces of Islamist extremism threaten regional and ultimately global stability. China is seeking to dominate the 21st century by steeling a lead in technology."

    He adds that migration is being “weaponised” by hostile states to threaten the “integrity of our borders”.

    He mentions the Rwanda scheme, saying that if Labour wins they will cut the plan and make “our country less secure”.

  18. Economy has 'turned a corner', says Sunak

    Rishi Sunak

    Sunak begins his address to party activists by acknowledging the last few years have been tough for many people, but says his government has made progress on reducing inflation, adding the economy has "turned a corner".

    He says voters must decide whether to stick with his plan or risk "uncertainty" with Labour.

    The prime minister says "now is the moment for Britain to choose its future".

    Foreign Secretary David Cameron, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan are among the cabinet ministers on stage with him.

  19. Sunak to address Tory party event in London

    James Cleverly at Tory campaign launch

    We are about to hear again from Rishi Sunak, who is appearing at a Conservative Party event in East London.

    He is to be joined on the stage by several members of the cabinet and is being introduced by Home Secretary James Cleverly, who's speaking now.

    We'll bring you some key points and you can watch live by pressing the Play button at the top of the page.

  20. Plaid Cymru leader says he will be 'fighting for fairness'

    Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth welcomed the "long called-for" July election date and said his party's focus would be "fairness".

    He said: "We will be the ones fighting for fairness, for individuals, for families, for communities the length and breadth of Wales who have suffered so much because of the cost of living crisis and years of austerity.

    "We will be the ones demanding fairness for Wales in funding and our ability to build a better future," he added.