The starting gun has been fired on the next general election, after prime minister Rishi Sunak finally announced when the country will go to the polls.

After months of speculation, Mr Sunak confirmed the date of the next general election will be July 4.

Eastern Daily Press: Rishi SunakRishi Sunak

The prime minister made the announcement in Downing Street this afternoon.

It means battle will now commence in earnest over the fate of 11 parliamentary constituencies in Norfolk and Waveney.

The Conservatives currently hold nine of those, while Labour hold one of the two Norwich seats.

Eastern Daily Press: The date for the general election has been announcedThe date for the general election has been announced

The 11th constituency is a new one - Waveney Valley, which crosses borders, taking in parts of Norfolk, such as Diss, Roydon, Bressingham and Harleston and areas of Suffolk such as Bungay.

Along with the first MP in that new constituency, new faces in the Houses of Parliament are guaranteed in at least three of the constituencies.

That is because Sir Brandon Lewis (Great Yarmouth), Richard Bacon (South Norfolk) and Chloe Smith (Norwich North) have already announced they will not be standing again.

Eastern Daily Press: Liz TrussLiz Truss

Former prime minister Liz Truss will be looking to retain her South West Norfolk seat, which she has held since 2010.

Other incumbents looking to retain their seats are Duncan Baker (North Norfolk), Jerome Mayhew (in renamed Broadland and Fakenham), James Wild (North West Norfolk), George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) and Peter Aldous (Waveney).

Labour's Clive Lewis will be looking to retain Norwich South, which he has represented since 2015.

Political analysts say the prime minister made his announcement today, having gambled that improved inflation figures and a recovering economy will help him overturn Labour’s 20-point opinion poll lead.

In a sign that security and the economy will be key battlegrounds, Mr Sunak said in his speech: “This election will take place at time when the world is more dangerous than it has been since the end of the Cold War.”

The “uncertain times” call for a “clear plan”, he said.

A July election is earlier than many in Westminster had expected, with a contest in October or November widely thought to have been more likely.

Mr Sunak’s announcement came after the Office for National Statistics said Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation slowed to 2.3% in April, down from 3.2% in March.

He said that was a “major milestone” for the country, with inflation now “back to normal” levels.

One reason for delaying might have been to allow Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to deliver another tax-cutting financial statement in the lead-up to the vote, but official figures revealed borrowing for April overshot forecasts, hitting £20.5 billion, suggesting he would have had limited scope for pre-election giveaways.