A flurry of resignations from prominent Conservative MPs and Cabinet ministers has sparked renewed doubt in the strength of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership. While some are calling for the rules to be changed to enable another vote of no confidence, others are pushing for a snap general election to oust Mr Johnson from his position.
Here’s what you need to know about general elections and when the next one could be.
What is a general election?
A general election is when the people across every part of the UK vote to choose their MP. This person will represent a local area (constituency) in the House of Commons for up to five years.
In each constituency there is a choice of several candidates. Most will be the local candidates for national political parties. The candidate that receives most votes becomes their MP.
The general election also decides the Prime Minister of the country, with the leader of the majority political party taking office.
There are 650 constituencies in the UK and a party needs to win 326 seats (MPs) to gain an overall majority. If there is no clear majority, it is a hung parliament and parties must work together to negotiate a coalition.
When was the last general election?
The last general election was held on Thursday December 12th, 2019. The main contenders were Conservative leader Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The election saw the Conservative Party win a landslide majority of 80 seats. The Conservatives made a net gain of 48 seats and won 43.6% of the popular vote – the highest percentage for any party since 1979.
The snap election was called by Mr Johnson after he could not induce Parliament to approve a revised withdrawal agreement for Brexit by the end of October. All the opinion polls leading up to the election indicated a Conservative win.
When is the next general election in the UK?
Although there is no known date for the next general election in the UK, it will be held no later than Thursday 23 January 2025. However, one could be held earlier if Boris Johnson decides to call a snap vote like he did in 2019.
By law, the maximum term of a Parliament is five years from the day on which it first met. The current Parliament first met on Tuesday December 17, 2019 and will automatically dissolve on Tuesday December 17, 2024, unless it has been dissolved sooner by the Queen. Polling Day would be expected to take place 25 days later.
Towards the end of March the Times reported that staff at Downing Street were told to prepare for a general election as early as autumn of 2023. However, this has not been confirmed.