MPs to debate petition for an early general election which received more than 600,000 signatures

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Labour leader Keir Starmer has backed calls for an early general election

MPs will this afternoon debate a petition to call an early general election following months of turmoil in government.

Published in late July, the petition has collected more than 630,000 signatures at time of writing.

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The petition’s organiser has accused the government of “arrogantly clinging on to power,” and said that the public are “sick and tired of not having a say”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has said a general election is needed “for the good of the country,” while a former Tory minister has said the “game is up” for Liz Truss.

Petition calls for early general election

MPs are set to discuss a petition which has acquired more than six times the necessary number of signatures to prompt an official debate in parliament.

The debate will take place at 4.30pm and can be viewed live online at ParliamentLive or on BBC Parliament.

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The petition calls for an “immediate general election to end the chaos of the current government,” and was launched following the mass-resignation which prompted Boris Johnson to resign in July.

Currently, there are no plans for a general election to be held until 2024, although there is a feeling among many MPs that if Truss stepped down the new prime minister should call an election in order to secure a mandate.

Darrin Charlesworth, who set up the petition, said: “No political party has ever been arrogant enough to cling to power this desperately, while failing so horrifically not just on policy but on basic democratic norms. Whatever happens in the debate, one thing is now crystal clear. There are well over half a million of us out there who are sick and tired of not having a say in the rotten policies that are turning our lives upside down.

“People who have had enough of being ignored. Those who would never vote for austerity, who didn’t vote to have their pensions trashed, who don’t want their rivers filled with sewage or the nation’s natural habitat concreted over are being dragged into a living nightmare by an unelected cabal.”

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In an official response to the petition on 20 September, which became mandatory once it acquired 10,000 signatures, the government stated that, “a change in the leader of the governing party does not trigger a general election – this has been the case under governments of successive political colours”.

It added: ““In her speech of 6 September 2022, the new Prime Minister set out three early priorities: to grow Britain’s economy, deal with the energy crisis caused by Putin’s war, and putting the national health service on a firm footing. The Prime Minister is determined to address the challenges the country faces and ensure opportunity and prosperity for all people and future generations.”

Election needed ‘for the good of the country’

In the months since the petition was launched, Liz Truss won the Conservative leadership election on a platform of cutting taxes, with a particular focus on those on higher incomes, financed by large amounts of government borrowing.

Following the chancellor’s mini-budget, the value of the pound plummeted and the Bank of England was forced to intervene on a large-scale to shore up pensions.

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Kwasi Kwarteng was later forced to resign, while the vast majority of the policies announced in the mini-budget - which made up the bulk of Truss’ policy platform - have now been abandoned.

The chaos in government has prompted many Conservative MPs to question whether Truss should remain in office, though the vast majority are yet to publicly call for her to resign.

Crispin Blunt, Jamie Wallis and Andrew Bridgen are the only Conservatives to have broken ranks and said Truss should step down.

Speaking to the Guardian, Starmer said a general election is needed as the Conservative party is “completely exhausted and clapped out”.

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He said: “It has got no ideas, it can’t face the future and it has left the UK in a defensive crouch where we are not facing the challenges of the future because we haven’t got a government that could lead us to the future. For the good of the country we need a general election.”

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