Labour is “ready” to fight a May general election, Sir Keir Starmer has said, as he warned he fears the Conservatives will “go low” in a bid to hold onto power.
The Labour leader said his party was “ready for May” but warned against predicting the outcome of the fight to enter government.
It comes during an energetic party conference in Liverpool, with Labour riding high in the polls and around an 18-point lead over the Tories.
Speaking at Labour’s annual business event on Monday, Starmer told industry bosses he fears the contest could descend into gutter politics.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must call a general election by January 2025 at the latest, and is widely expected to time it for either May or October 2024, with commentators now suggesting the Conservative leader is more likely to opt for autumn.
Starmer said he expected the campaign to “descend into a place which isn’t about big politics”.
He said: “I’m not going to predict the outcome of the general election, nor when it will be.
“Though obviously it will either be May or October, and our team is ready for May because I don’t think anybody would rule out May.
“In terms of how it will be run, I think it will unfortunately descend into a place which isn’t about big politics. I think it will go low, from the government’s point of view.”
Starmer claimed the government was “in danger of making decisions in the short-term interest of opening up divides for the purpose of an election”.
And he warned: “When a government gets into that place, whatever political party it is, that’s a bad place for the country.”
Labour has made no secret of its efforts to woo big business ahead of the election, with Starmer addressing company bosses ahead of shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves’ speech.