Following the prime minister‘s statement that she will stand down following a brief Conservative leadership race, opposition parties have called for a general election.
Sir Keir Starmer has called for an immediate general election in the wake of Liz Truss’s resignation. The Labour leader said the Conservative Party has shown “it no longer has a mandate to govern.” Devolved leaders and the heads of the main opposition parties have also called for an election.
We too at NationalWorld are also calling for a nationwide vote. The short-lived premiership of Liz Truss was a complete shambles - a period of time in which the UK’s status on the world stage took a hammering.
But more importantly, we’re all paying the price now. Mortgages - closely followed by rent - have risen substantially, during a cost of living and energy crisis that was already hitting the country hard. It’s time for a reset. It’s time for the voters to be given their say on what happens next, and who they trust to run the country. If you agree, please sign our petition.
So how likely is a general election in the near future, and just how quickly could the logistics of one be organised?
Here is everything you need to know.
When is the next general election?
General elections in the UK are held every five years. The last election was held in 2019. This was a snap election, having originally been scheduled to take place in 2022.
Therefore, the next general election is set to take place in 2024. It is also always traditionally held on a Thursday, normally the last Thursday in May.
While 2024 seems a while away to make choices on the political future of the UK, there may be an opportunity to vote earlier. As mentioned earlier, a snap election can be called, bringing forward the date of the general election.
What is a snap election?
A snap election is normally called by the ruling party when there is an opportunity to strengthen their political standing. This means for example, they have the opportunity to pick up more seats and increase their working majority, as Boris Johnson did in 2019.
The new Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022 has removed the requirements for MPs to back the motion to hold a snap election via a vote in the House of Commons.
Previous snap elections had been held under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. This meant that an election could only be triggered by one of two scenarios.
This was if two-thirds of MPs in the House of Commons voted in favour of holding an unscheduled election, or if the government lost a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons and there was no alternative government confirmed within two weeks.
Instead, the Prime Minister can choose at will when they want to advise the monarch, King Charles III, to dissolve parliament to hold an election.
Will there be a snap election?
Whether there will be a snap election ahead of the planned general election in 2024 remains to be seen. That decision will fall to whoever secures the Conservative Party leadership in the contest to replace Truss.
Since the Tories still command a working majority within the House of Commons, there is no reason they would have to call an early election under current circumstances.
And with the party polling unfavourably against the opposition, any new leader will be cautious about calling for such a vote, and it would likely mean certain doom. If any Conservative leader is brave enough to announce a general election, and are then pummelled in the preceding vote, it’s likely they would then face calls to resign.
That could give the country its fourth Tory leader in months, though one who would not be in charge of the country.
How quickly could a snap election be called?
Say the new Tory leader - to be announced no later than next Friday (28 October) - does put their leadership on the line and call for a snap election, how soon could one be organised? And could it happen before Christmas?
We’ll use the early general election of 2019 as an example. The date for the vote was set following the Royal Assent of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 on 31 October, which confirmed the day of the election as 12 December.
A week later, on 6 November, Parliament was dissolved, marking the official start of the four week campaign window.
Using these timeframes, if the eventual winner of the Tory leadership is known by Monday (24 October) evening - as could be the case if only one candidate gathers the required backing of 100 MPs - does make calling an early election one of their first moves as Prime Minister, it could be around 50 days until the public gets to vote.
With elections traditionally falling on a Thursday, we’d mark Thursday 15 December as the earliest, pre-Christmas date a vote could be held.
We need a general election now - sign our petition if you agree