What is a snap election? Will Boris Johnson trigger one after confidence vote win - when was the last UK one

Pressure is mounting on Boris Johnson to call a snap election after cabinet members Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid resigned from their roles

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership of the country and the Tory party could be in peril following a series of high-profile cabinet resignations.

Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid both resigned as Chancellor and Health Secretary in quick succession, stating that they no longer had confidence in the Prime Minister.

The resignations came one month after a confidence vote, where Mr Johnson narrowly survived in his position.

Despite winning the confidence vote, Johnson is now a Prime Minister diminished and lacking authority.

So, is there a chance that Boris Johnson could call a snap election, what exactly is a snap election and when was the last one?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What is a snap election?

A snap election is an election that is called earlier than the one that has been scheduled.

A snap election is usually called to capitalise on an unusual electoral opportunity or to decide a pressing issue in a circumstance when an election is not required by law or convention.

The point of a snap election is to have a poll without a long campaign and it is called suddenly or unexpectedly.

The power to call a snap election is with the current Prime Minister, and so they often result in increased majorities for the party already in power as they typically choose to call them at an advantageous time for themselves.

Snap elections can, however, also backfire on the Prime Minister as it can also result in a decreased majority or, in some cases, the opposition winning or gaining power.

From 2011, the conditions for when a snap election can be called in the UK have been significantly restricted by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA) to occasions when the government loses a confidence motion or when a two-thirds supermajority of MPs vote in favour.

Will Boris Johnson call for a snap election in the UK?

Speculation is continuing as to whether or not Boris Johnson will call a snap election, but he has said he will not.

Speaking just minutes after the outcome of the no confidence vote was announced on the evening of Monday 6 June, the Prime Minister said he was “certainly not interested in snap elections”.

Speaking to journalists, Mr Johnson also described the results of a confidence vote in his leadership as a “very good result”.

He said: "I think this is a very good result for politics and for the country.”

He added it was “a convincing result, a decisive result, and what it means is that as a Government we can move on and focus on the stuff that I think really matters to people”.

Asked how it compared to past confidence votes in Conservative prime ministers, he replied: “I have got a far bigger mandate from my own parliamentary colleagues than I had in 2019.”

When was the last UK snap election?

The last UK snap election was held in December 2019, when Boris Johnson gambled by calling people to the polls in an effort to increase his parliamentary majority and end months of deadlock over Brexit.

After MPs debated in Parliament, it was agreed that the election would go ahead.

The Conservatives won a sweeping victory which handed the party a strong mandate to progress with completing the country’s exit from the European Union.

The last snap election prior to that was held just over five years ago, in April 2017, by then Prime Minister Theresa May.

May requested a general election, which was approved in Parliament by a near-unanimous vote, shortly after the official commencement of the process of withdrawing from the European Union.

May said at the time that she needed a clear mandate to lead the country through the ensuing Brexit negotiations, and hoped to increase her Conservative Party’s majority.

The general election that followed was a failure for May, with the Conservative Party losing seats, resulting in a hung parliament and a minority Conservative government with a confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party.

When is the next UK general election?

The UK’s next general election is scheduled for Thursday 2 May 2024.

It will happen on that date if Boris Johnson serves a full term as Prime Minister, which is five years according to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

However, the date of the election could change if Mr Johnson calls a snap vote before then.

If Johnson had not called a snap election in December 2019, a general election would have taken place in 2022 instead as every five years Parliament is automatically dissolved.