Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a general election following Prime Minister Liz Truss’s resignation after 44 days in office.
In a statement, Sir Keir said: “The British public deserves a proper say on the country’s future.
“They must have the chance to compare the Tories’ chaos with Labour’s plans to sort out their mess, grow the economy for working people and rebuild the country for a fairer, greener future.
“We must have a chance at a fresh start. We need a general election – now.”
But what are the rules about calling a general election, and who can call for an early vote?
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 take place 25 days later, meaning the next general election is currently due to take place in January 2025. However, the King can dissolve parliament before this date.
When was the last general election?
The last general election was on December 12, 2019. The Conservative party won the majority. Boris Johnson called the election following months of a parliamentary deadlock that delayed Brexit.
There was another general election in 2017, called by then Prime Minister Theresa May, in the hopes of strengthening her hand in the Brexit negotiations.
At this time, a general election wasn’t due until 2020.
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When can a general election be held?
The Fixed-Term Parliament Act of 2011 created fixed five-year periods between elections and only allowed earlier elections in specific circumstances.
The specific circumstances were: if two-thirds of MPs voted for an early general election, or if the House of Commons voted no confidence in the government, and failed to pass a motion of confidence in any government within 14 calendar days, according to the Institute for Government.
As previously mentioned, the House of Commons chose to hold earlier general elections in 2017 and 2019.
On March 24, 2022, the Government repealed the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. This means that the King can dissolve the government at the request of the Prime Minister, which will lead to a general election.
When the act was repealed, Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Ellis said: “The Fixed-term Parliaments Act was not fit for purpose, causing constitutional chaos in 2019 and delaying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.”
As a result, the Prime Minister can request a dissolution from the King, which if granted, would allow the Prime Minister to call a general election at any time.
Why are elections held on a Thursday?
Every general election since 1931 has been held on a Thursday.
It was suggested that holding them on Thursdays 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 (traditionally local council employees) to work over the weekend.