General Election UK: Can Rishi Sunak call a 2024 vote? - as David Cameron returns in cabinet reshuffle

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As Rishi Sunak completes yet another cabinet reshuffle, many will be wondering when a UK general election will be called

Rishi Sunak is facing calls to a hold a general election after his latest cabinet reshuffle saw Suella Braverman sacked and David Cameron appointed as Foreign Secretary. The Prime Minister has been criticised for overseeing a lengthy cost-of-living crisis, and not curbing a stubborn inflation rate which still stands much higher than the Bank of England's 2% target.

Pat McFadden, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, took to social media to share his thoughts on the latest reshuffle. He said: "Reshuffling the Ministers won’t change the Tory record over the past 13 years. It won’t make any difference to the cost of living or to public services. The only way to bring about change is to get rid of this failed Tory Government."

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While Sunak has been battling detractors on opposition benches, he has also been working hard to organise his own party. Today's ministerial reshuffle is the latest in a series of sackings and resignations from cabinet officials during his 12-month tenure.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has replaced the outgoing Ms Braverman as Home Secretary, while former Prime Minister David Cameron has made a return to politics to head up the Foreign Office. Meanwhile Thérèse Coffey has been replaced by Steve Barclay as the new Environment Secretary and Victoria Atkins has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

However, the turbulent state of the Conservative Party is reflected in a recent YouGov poll, which queried the public on when the next general election should be called. Almost a third (29%) of those polled opted for Spring 2024. But is Rishi Sunak likely to call a general election early? and what is the scheduled date for a vote, according to the Fixed Term Parliament Act? Here's everything you need to know.

When is the next general election?

Since the Fixed Term Parliament act was repealed in 2022, there is no longer a fixed period between general elections. However, Parliaments must automatically dissolve after five years.

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Therefore, instead of Parliament deciding when an election will be called, it is now down to the government to decide, given it is called within the five-year life span of Parliament. If the government fails to call a general election in this time, Parliament will dissolve and polling day will take place after a 25-day election campaign.

The current Parliament first met on December 17, 2019, so will therefore dissolve on December 17, 2024. This means the latest date for a general election to be held is January 2025.

When happened at the last general election?

In December 2019, Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a huge majority of 80 seats. The Prime Minister called the snap election as he was unable to get his party's Brexit withdrawal agreement through the House of Commons.

The 365 seats won by the Conservative Party was more than enough to see Johnson successfully implement an official exit day for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. Labour's resounding defeat led to Jeremy Corbyn's resignation, meanwhile Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson lost her constituency seat.

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When will Rishi Sunak call a general election?

Rishi Sunak can request, at His Majesty's consent, for Parliament to be dissolved at any point before December 2024. However, the Prime Minister noted at the Conservative Party Conference, calling an 'immediate' election would be against the public's wishes.

Rishi Sunak isn't expected to hold a general election until Autumn 2024. This is because Conservatives are still well behind Labour when it comes to opinion polls on voting intention, and Rishi Sunak will likely want inflation to level out at 2% before he goes to the country.

Also, in February, former Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said: “The next 18 months will see us win or lose the next general election,” - and added the party wouldn't want to campaign over Christmas.

Given the recent events that have unfolded within the Conservative Party, opposition parties along with the public, will be mounting pressure on Mr Sunak to let the country have its say. A petition calling for an immediate general election has currently got over 272,000 signatures and must be considered for debate in the House of Commons.

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