When is the next general election? Will Liz Truss announce UK vote before 2024 date, and when was the last one

Liz Truss will become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, succeeding Boris Johnson, after beating Rishi Sunak in the Conservative Party leadership race

Liz Truss is the new leader of the Conservative Party after beating Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership race.

Ms Truss won a vote from Tory party members - leading to questions if she will action an early general election.

So, when is the next general election in the UK - and what happened in 2019? Here is everything you need to know.

The early odds on who could be the next Conservative leader (NationalWorld / James Trembath)

How does a general election work?

The UK is divided up into 650 constituencies, with each area having an MP representing it in Westminster. Each person in the UK has one vote to choose their preferred candidate.

In the first-past-the-post system, the candidate who receives the most votes automatically becomes the MP for that constituency and wins a seat in the House of Commons.

A political party wins a general election by an overall majority if it reaches 326 MPs. The Queen then invites the leader of the party to form a new government, with the leader becoming the country’s Prime Minister.

But if no single political party wins a majority - known as a hung Parliament - a coalition government or minority government is formed.

What happened in the last general election?

The last general election was held on 12 December 2019. Boris Johnson called the UK’s third election since 2015, and the first to be held in December for nearly 100 years.

There were concerns that the winter vote would affect turnout.

However, 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. In a shocking twist, compared to earlier polls, they won 368 seats - the biggest majority for the Tories since 1987.

Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn at the time, suffered a huge defeat as the main opposition party. They suffered significant losses, which analysts put down to the demand for Brexit and the leadership of Mr Corbyn.

When is the next general election?

There is currently no date for the next general election.

However the maximum term for Parliament is five years.

Because of an early election, the current Parliament first sat on 17 December 209 and as a result will be automatically dissolved on 17 December 2024.

Polling Day would be expected to take place 25 days later, so in January 2025.

Prior to the last general election, polls have traditionally taken place in May.

A general election could take place earlier if a snap poll is called before then.

That is exactly what happened in 2019, when Mr Johnson gambled by calling a snap general election in an effort to increase his parliamentary majority and end months of deadlock over Brexit.

After MPs debated in Parliament, it was agreed the election would go ahead. Two-thirds of MPs were at that time required to agree to an early election through a vote.

If the snap election hadn’t been called, a general election would have taken place in 2022 instead as every five years Parliament is automatically dissolved.

There is some suggestion that Mr Johnson’s successor will be under pressure to call an early election to get their own mandate.

How often is a general election held in the UK?

The Fixed-term Parliament act 2011 was repelled in March 2022.

The Act created fixed, five year periods between general elections. Earlier elections could be held only in specified circumstances.

It has been replaced by the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act, which returns to the ‘tried and tested system for calling elections’.

Under this bill, a Prime Minister can ask the Sovereign for a disolution of Parliament and call an election.

A two-thirds majority in Parliament is no longer required for a snap poll.

By law, a general election must take place at least every five years.

When will the next Prime Minister takeover?

Liz Truss will travel to the Scottish Highlands to meet the Queen on Tuesday (6 September) at Balmoral Castle, where she will be asked to form a government and become prime minister.

The historic audience will be the first time the 96-year-old monarch, who has faced ongoing mobility issues, has carried out the key duty at her retreat in Aberdeenshire, rather than at Buckingham Palace.

Ms Truss, 47, will become the third female prime minister in British history – following in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May – with all three serving during the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

What is a by-election?

By-elections take place in the UK when a seat in the House of Commons becomes empty between general elections.

This can happen for a number of reasons, including if an MP resigns or dies, or is convicted of a serious offence.

In Tiverton & Honiton, the by-election was caused by Conservative MP Neil Parish resigning after admitting watching porn in the House of Commons.

While in Wakefield, Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan resigned after being convicted of sexually assaulting a child.