When is the next UK general election? Downing Street sources say autumn general election is on the cards

When is the next UK general election? Downing Street sources say autumn general election is on the cards
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Rishi Sunak is planning for the general election to take place on October 10, the Independent reports.

The prime minister on Thursday ruled out a snap election on May 2.

It is thought Mr Sunak is unlikely to hold an election mid-November, since it would clash with the US presidential election.

Under current rules – known as the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022 – the latest date the UK can go to the polls is January 2025.

According to the act, should an election not be called by December 17, 2024, Parliament would automatically dissolve, as it would be exactly five years since the last general election in 2019.

An election expert has warned that the Tories could suffer their worst result in history at the next general election and be left with just 130 seats.

As the party remains dominated by infighting, Professor John Curtice said Mr Sunak’s party would be “lucky to win [many] more than 200 seats” and could see an even worse result if its dire poll ratings continue.

“If these patterns were to be replicated in a general election, the outcome for the Conservatives could be bleak indeed – maybe as few as 130 seats, the worst outcome in the party’s history,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

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 within 25 days, 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.

It was rumoured within Westminster that the Conservatives could push the date as late as possible. Recent figures showed the party trailing Labour by around 20 points.

It is now expected that an election will take place in the autumn, with senior Tory Lord Hayward suggesting a general election could be held in October 2024. Mr Sunak's latest comments seem to support his statement.

When was the last general election?

The last general election was on December 12, 2019. The Conservative Party won a large majority of 80 seats. This was a net gain of 48, on 43.6 per cent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for any party since the 1979 general election.

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. She had hoped to strengthen 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 could ask the King to dissolve Parliament so a general election could be held.

When the act was repealed, the then 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 judgement. 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.