LONDON — Theresa May will on Wednesday afternoon ask MPs to vote in favour of a general election being held on Thursday, June 8.
The prime minister stunned the nation on Tuesday by calling for a snap election to be held in just over six weeks’ time despite previously insisting that the general election will go ahead in 2020 as initially scheduled.
Here’s everything you need to know about how it will go down.
Why do MPs need to vote? Hasn’t May already spoken?
The prime minister wants an election to take place just two years after the last one in 2015 but the Fixed Term Parliaments Act requires UK general elections to happen once every five years.
However, there’s a get-out clause. Under the Act, a prime minister can hold an election ahead of schedule if at least thirds of MPs in the House of Commons (434 out of 650) vote in for a motion calling for one.
May will put forward such a motion at 13:00 p.m (BST) today once Prime Minister’s Questions is over, with the vote due around 14.30 p.m (BST).
All the other parties support it, don’t they?
Yes. Well, kind of.
The leaders of all other parties in the Commons have welcomed May’s call for an early election. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he “welcomes” the suggestion and added: “We’re ready for it.
“We’ve got more members than we’ve ever had before, we’ve paid off all our debts to the party, we don’t have any mortgages, we are in a very strong, organised position.”
The Labour leader was echoed by Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, and Green Party co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley. UKIP leader Paul Nuttall accused May of putting party politics ahead of the national interest — but the party currently does not have any MPs in the House of Commons.
So it’s going to be straightforward for May?
That isn’t a definite.
Corbyn has previously indicated that he will instruct Labour MPs to vote for a snap election but not all are certain to follow his lead. His office is yet to confirm whether Labour MPs will be whipped into supporting the motion and a number of them told a party parliamentary meeting on Tuesday that they are even considering voting against it.
This is due to a number of reasons.
Firstly, May went back on her word by calling for an early election and some Labour MPs want to hold her to account for it. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Labour faces a crushing defeat which would leave lots of the party’s MPs out of work. The findings of the latest YouGov poll indicate that up to 73 Labour MPs could lose their jobs if an election is held in June. Labour MPs in seats with narrow majorities are understandably not overly keen on supporting an election when their jobs at under severe jeopardy.
Here’s the Electoral Calculus forecast of the result based on the latest YouGov poll.
What will happen if the motion doesn’t pass?
If May doesn’t secure the two-thirds majority she needs then the only remaining means of holding an early election available to her would be MPs passing a no-confidence vote against in her leadership.
A no-confidence motion would act as a trigger for an early election but could be embarrassing for May and the Conservative government and not a route they will want to go down.
What will happen if the motion passes?
Parliament will be dissolved on May 3rd and then Britain will go to the polls on June 8th.
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