When could the next UK general election take place?

Labour enjoy a lead under Keir Starmer  (PA Wire)
Labour enjoy a lead under Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

Labour’s hopes for a general election victory have been given a shot in the arm by a study which has found nine of ten Brits want new leadership.

The Conservative Party has been in power for 13 years, since David Cameron entered a power-sharing coalition with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, although it has been less than a year that current prime minister Rishi Sunak has been in charge.

An exclusive Ipos Mori survey for the Evening Standard found that six in 10 adults want the next election to take place before the end of June 2024.

Labour enjoy a 20 per cent lead in the polls and the Conservatives held only one of the three seats being contested in recent by-elections.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said in June that Mr Sunak “must finally find a backbone” and call a general election after the prime minister found himself facing three MP resignations in the space of 24 hours.

However, while Mr Sunak faces low ratings in opinion polls, the situation is not perfect for Sir Keir as he has a net satisfaction rating of -22.

The next general election can take place any time until January 2025. What are the rules about holding an immediate one and who can call for it?

Rishi Sunak faces a battle to stay in number 10 (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak faces a battle to stay in number 10 (PA Wire)

When is the next UK general election?

The maximum term for Parliament is five years. As the current Parliament first met on December 17, 2019, it will be automatically dissolved on December 17, 2024.

Polling day would therefore take place 25 days later, placing the next general election in January 2025. However, King Charles could dissolve Parliament at any time before this date at the request of the prime minister.

When was the last general election?

The last general election was on December 12, 2019. The Conservative Party won a large majority. The prime minister at the time, Boris Johnson, called the election after months of parliamentary deadlock that delayed Brexit.

There was another general election in 2017, called by then-prime minister Theresa May in the hope of strengthening her hand in the Brexit negotiations.

When can a general election be held?

On March 24, 2022, the Government repealed the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, which had created five-year periods between elections and allowed earlier elections only in specific circumstances. The UK thus reverted to the prior situation when the prime minister was able to ask the King to dissolve Parliament so a general election could be held.

When the act was repealed, the minister for the cabinet office, Michael Ellis, said: “The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was not fit for purpose, causing constitutional chaos in 2019 and delaying the Government acting on people’s priorities.

“At critical moments, we must trust the British public’s good judgment. Elections give the public a voice, and it’s right that we return to a tried-and-tested system that allows them to take place when needed.”

Why are elections held on a Thursday?

Every general election since 1931 has been held on a Thursday.

It was suggested that this would encourage more people to vote. It has been thought that elections on a Friday would have had lower turnouts given people’s desire to begin their weekends.

Saturday and Sunday were believed to have been ruled out given the need to pay extra for polling staff (typically local council employees) to work at the weekend.

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