UK general elections: Which are the main parties, what are their key plans?

London: The United Kingdom is heading to the polls on July 4 after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced snap elections on May 22.

Parties vying for the 650 seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of the UK Parliament, have all released manifestos detailing where they stand on issues including the economy, the National Health Service (NHS), immigration and the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

The last general election in the UK was in December 2019 when Boris Johnson led the ruling Conservative Party back to power. After Sunak’s announcement, parliament was dissolved on May 30 and the country entered a period known as “purdah”, during which time civil servants and local governments must refrain from making any announcements about new initiatives or plans that might be seen as advantageous for one particular political party. Purdah does not restrict political candidates from canvassing for votes, however.

These are the main political parties – and the promises they are making – in the lead-up to the general election:

Also known as the Conservative and Unionist Party or, informally, the Tories or Tory Party
Political alignment: centre-right to right
Formed in: 1834

Manifesto: Reduce borrowing and debt, cut taxes by 17.2 billion pounds ($22bn) annually by 2029-2030. Increase NHS spending above inflation and recruit 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors. Raise defence spending to 2.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Build on post-Brexit relationships in Europe. Impose a binding cap for legal migration and deport asylum seekers who arrive by irregular means to Rwanda

Current leader: Rishi Sunak
In power since: 2010 (first five years in coalition with Liberal Democrats) under Prime Minister David Cameron, followed by Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak

Seats in House of Commons in outgoing parliament: 344

Support in latest polls: Twenty percent of those polled on said they intend to vote Conservative, as of June 18, according to YouGov, the British public opinion and data monitoring company. The Conservative Party won 43 percent of the popular vote in 2019.

Political alignment: centre-left
Formed in: 1900

Manifesto: Introduce new industrial strategy, and focus on wealth creation rather than raising taxes. Cut NHS waiting times by adding 40,000 more health appointments each week, and double the number of cancer scanners. Scrap the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda and instead tighten border security and improve relationship with Europe.