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Is a summer election “suicide” for the Tories?

🐕 Pet Gala | 🫢 Duckface | 🥖 Aromatic airmail

In the headlines

It’s Rishi Sunak’s “big gamble”, says The Guardian, after the PM’s surprise decision yesterday to call a general election for 4 July despite his party trailing Labour by around 20 points in polls. Keir Starmer said this morning it was time to “turn the page” and end Tory “chaos”, while Nigel Farage announced that he would not run as a candidate for Reform UK. China has launched two days of large-scale military drills around Taiwan as “punishment” for the self-ruled island’s “separatist acts”. The naval exercises come just days after the inauguration in Taipei of president William Lai, who Beijing has called a “dangerous troublemaker”. English children are “world leaders in laziness”, says The Times. A new WHO study shows that only 11% of 15-year-old girls and 16% of boys did the recommended 60 minutes of exercise a day, placing them near the bottom of the global table below the likes of Romania, Poland, Croatia and Spain.


Sunak at his first election campaign event last night. Henry Nicholls/Getty

Is a summer election “suicide” for the Tories?

Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a snap summer election is “suicide for the Tories”, says The Spectator. With opinion polls pointing to a Labour landslide, calling the election now is an admission that, on everything from public finances to public services, “the worst is yet to come”. This is an odd call: inflation, NHS waiting lists and net migration levels are all falling and should be in better shape by the autumn, when many expected the vote would be. MPs feel they face either a survivable defeat (say, 200 seats remaining) or an “extinction-level event”. Potential leadership hopefuls are “openly canvassing support” and gallows humour is the “main force sustaining the Tory tea rooms”. More seasoned campaigners can be heard quoting Tennyson: “into the valley of death rode the six hundred”.

I’m not so sure, says Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. The Conservatives have been in power for a long time. There’s nothing Sunak can do about that, but if he waited until autumn voters might have felt he was dragging it out, only adding to Labour’s “time for a change” mood. He has also wrong-footed Nigel Farage’s right-wing challenger party Reform UK, which was already struggling to find enough vetted candidates to fight every seat. Then there is Rwanda: holding the election after the policy has been introduced but before the hottest part of the summer, when small boat Channel crossings peak, avoids the charge that his flagship policy has been a failure. The truth is that there is no good time for the shop-soiled Tories to call an election. Sunak knows he will almost certainly lose, so easily could have put it off until the last possible moment. “I’m impressed that he has been bolder than that.”

💦📢 The image of Sunak outside Downing Street, “so wet that it looked like he was wearing a suit made of leather”, did not play well on the evening news, says Stephen Bush in the FT. He could hardly be heard over the entirely predictable din created by nearby protesters, who played the 1997 Labour election song Things Can Only Get Better by D:Ream. And he was still wearing his rain-soaked trousers at a rally later that evening. “I’m not saying that any of this stuff matters electorally.” But a campaign that can’t even get this sort of thing right is “unlikely to finish stronger than it started”.


American dog owners have their own version of the Met Gala, says AP: “the pet gala”. Dog duds designer Anthony Rubio threw the now-annual fashion show at New York’s American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog earlier this week, sending 18 hounds down the red carpet in canine couture. See more pooch pics here.

Election watch

🗳️ 42 days to go…
If Labour does win on 4 July, says Trevor Phillips in The Times, it’ll be “a step into the unknown” for much of the population. “No one under the age of 36 has voted in a general election that returned a prime minister who was not a Tory.”

An invitation from The Knowledge

As a reader of The Knowledge you will be aware that we live in uncertain times. Getting a good return on your investments, without excessive risk, is hard. This is why on 6 June The Knowledge is delighted to host a special free webinar with Netwealth, one of the UK’s most innovative and successful wealth management firms.

Please do join me with Charlotte Ransom, CEO of Netwealth, and Gerard Lyons, Chief Economic Strategist, for an enjoyable and informative conversation. We will consider how a wide range of political and economic events could impact your investments, from a Labour victory in Britain to Donald Trump returning to the White House. You can also ask questions in advance when you sign up.

I look forward to you joining us on 6 June at 1pm.

Jon Connell


It takes “a certain cheek”, says Blanca Schofield in Air Mail, to begin an elegant British rom-com with: “f***, f***, f***, f***, f***ity f***, bugger”. But 30 years ago, that’s precisely what Richard Curtis did with Four Weddings and a Funeral. In fact, the reason Hugh Grant’s drippy ex (played by Anna Chancellor) is called Duckface is that the filmmakers were worried there was too much profanity. Until a last-minute change, the character was called F***face.

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Scholz: careful, now. Maja Hitij/Getty

Let the ICC do its job

For Germany, Benjamin Netanyahu’s potential International Criminal Court arrest warrant is a “political problem”, says Mathieu von Rohr in Der Spiegel. Steadfast support for Israel is a “central component” of German politics – but so is support for the ICC, which Berlin played a central role in founding. When the court indicted Vladimir Putin last year, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared it was “the right institution to investigate war crimes”. If he, or any other European leader, now treats the Israel case differently, they’ll rightly be accused of hypocrisy. And while the ICC has been accused of equating Hamas and the Israeli government by appearing to lump the two together, the reality is that the charges “differ significantly”.

Hamas’s leaders have been “held personally responsible for the atrocities of October 7”, including murder and rape. The main allegation against Netanyahu, and Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant, is using the starvation of civilians as a weapon of war – an accusation which is certainly worth investigating. It’s very simple: if you believe in international law and human rights, then they need to apply to everyone. And given current partisanship – some throw “blanket accusations of genocide” at Israel, others label any criticism of the country as anti-Semitic – having an independent body that can investigate this stuff “without political pressure or influence” is invaluable. We must let the ICC do its job.

Food and drink

France has issued a new postage stamp commemorating the humble baguette, says The New York Times. “And this one is scratch and sniff.” The new airmail adhesive, released last week on the feast day of Saint Honoré, patron saint of bakers, will transport special “bakery fragrances” all over the world. “There was no word on when a croissant stamp might follow.”


Wind power was Britain’s biggest source of electricity over the past 12 months, the first time a renewable energy source has overtaken gas. From May 2023 to April 2024, wind turbines generated 32% of our electricity compared to 31% from gas power – the latter had previously been at number one for 28 years straight. The surge was aided by fierce storms in December and January, as well as huge offshore wind farms in Scotland and the North Sea coming online.


Snapshot answer

It’s the light-up dancefloor from Saturday Night Fever, which has been put up for auction with an estimated price of $300,000. The multicoloured surface where John Travolta strutted his stuff in the 1977 film is part of a collection of classic movie memorabilia going under the hammer in Los Angeles next month. Other items include an ark of the covenant prototype from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and a bowling shirt worn by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. Have a look at some of the other lots here.


“Don’t vote – it just encourages the bastards.”
PJ O’Rourke

That’s it. You’re done.