Rishi Sunak has announced the general election will likely be held in the “second half” of 2024.
The prime minister’s intervention on Thursday suggests the country will go to the polls in October or November.
Sunak said: “My working assumption is we’ll have a general election in the second half of this year.”
It comes following speculation he could decide to call an early election in May.
The prime minister does still have the option of delaying it until as late as January 2025.
Labour holds a commanding poll lead and earlier today Keir Starmer said 2024 could be “the moment when power is taken out of Tory hands”, adding: “Bring it on.”
Lib Dem leader Ed Davey accused Sunak of having “bottled it” and said he was “running scared”.
“Squatter Sunak is holed up in Downing Street, desperately clinging on to power rather than facing the verdict of the British people,” he said.
“We need an election in Spring, so that voters can finally get rid of this appalling and out-of-touch Conservative government.”
Speaking to broadcasters, the prime minister did not entirely rule out a spring election.
“I want to keep going managing the economy well and cutting people’s taxes. But I also want to keep tackling illegal migration,” he said when asked.
“I want to keep going, managing the economy well and cutting people’s taxes.
“But I also want to keep tackling illegal migration. So I’ve got lots to get on with and I’m determined to keep delivering for the British people.”
A recent survey showed nearly three-quarters of people - 73% - wanted the election by May of this year.
The research, by the More in Common think tank, found only 15% believed Sunak should wait until autumn.