Brexit Q&A: Everything you need to know about the possible UK election

Unlike Ireland, where the Taoiseach of the day has to power to go to the Áras at any time to seek permission from the president to call an election, Britain is ruled by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.

Brexit Q&A: Everything you need to know about the possible UK election

Q. Why cannot Boris Johnson just call an election?

Unlike Ireland, where the Taoiseach of the day has to power to go to the Áras at any time to seek permission from the president to call an election, Britain is ruled by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.

This Act stipulates that elections be held on a pre-determined date every five years, to diverge from this two-thirds of MPs (or 434 members of parliament) must vote in favour of an election. Legally, the next election will not have to happen until 2022.

In 2017, then prime minister Theresa May used this clause to call a snap election.

However, when Mr Johnson tried to do the same thing on Wednesday by tabling a motion stating "there shall be an early parliamentary general election", he failed to secure the required support in the Commons.

Many in the Labour party abstained in the vote, as while the party favour an election, they fear the prime minister could have moved the ballot date to after the October 31 Brexit deadline.

Q. Has the prime minister now lost his chance for a pre-Brexit election?

No, Mr Johnson can try to use the same method again.

The leader of the Commons and staunch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has also confirmed that another motion to hold an election will be tabled on Monday.

If this vote succeeds the prime minister will then go to the British Queen to recommend a date for the poll.

Parliament must then be dissolved 25 working days before election day.

Q. Are there any other options to force an election?

Yes. Should a no-confidence motion in either the government or the prime minister be put down. If this passes and if no other party can command a majority within the following 14 days, a general election can be called.

Q. Why does Boris Johnson want an election on October 15?

With a European Council summit scheduled for October 17, Number 10 wants to hold an election beforehand in order to give the PM the opportunity to win a fresh majority and show European Union leaders he could get any prospective deal through Parliament.

A Commons majority would also allow the Conservative Party leader, should the UK and Brussels not come to an agreement, to take Britain out of the EU without a deal by deadline day on October 31.

Q. What date might we have a general election then?

The leaders of both major parties, along with the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats, say they want a general election but Labour is not willing to give Mr Johnson the October 15 date he wants.

While a fresh poll in the coming weeks is still likely given the Commons stalemate, the final date will depend on how long the opposition wants to keep the PM in suspense.

Q. What is happening in the meantime?

As of 3pm yesterday, Mr Johnson lost control of the parliamentary agenda after a vote to seize power passed earlier this week. The opposition is pressing ahead with a Bill that would force Mr Johnson to ask the EU for a three-month delay if he cannot secure a deal by Halloween, ahead of any general election.

The legislation gives Mr Johnson until October 19 to strike a deal or else he would be legally bound to write to European leaders asking for the extension to Article 50.

This law was passed by the House of Commons on Wednesday and moved on to the House of Lords who have agreed to have it progressed by 5pm tomorrow. The Bill could potentially become law as early as Monday.

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