As Gordon Brown prepared to take over as Prime Minister in 2007, Conservative leader David Cameron called on the former Chancellor to call a snap election, claiming “Gordon Brown has no mandate to be prime minister”.
When Dave himself resigns, will he ensure his successor does the same?
The issue of a fresh election was first raised by media outlets as former shadow defense minister, Toby Perkins, warned Jeremy Corbyn to prepare for a snap election, come David Cameron’s exit from Downing Street near the 21st June.
Supporters of the current government will rush to quote the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011, an agreement of the coalition government that parliament would be forced to sit for a full five year term – no exceptions.
The act however, DOES permit a dissolution of parliament if two-thirds of members approve a vote of no-confidence.
Is a two-thirds majority realistic?
A quick look at statistics suggests an unequivocal NO! But when studied more closely, the outcome is not as obvious as it may first appear.
Together, opposition parties take 320 seats, just ten behind the total Conservative Party which holds 330 seats in parliament. 433/434 (66.6%) is the threshold for a vote of no-confidence in the government. This leaves opposition parties 113/114 short. However, with an EU referendum and Cameron’s resignation likely to divide Conservative backbench opinion, it’s likely the 141 ‘Brexit’ Tory MPs could pile in for a vote of no-confidence, hoping to boost the profile of UKIP and/or a post-referendum Tory identity – whatever that may be. If all ‘Brexit’ Tory MPs voted in favor of a fresh election, parliamentary approval could appear as follows:
No-confidence: 460 (71%)*
Confidence: 189 (29%)
*Not including John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons
That said, the eight remaining Liberal Democrat MPs may find it hard to back the dismantling of a piece of legislation they imposed just five years ago. No matter – this would make the figures 69% in favor of devolution and a mere 31% against. Not only does an election appear likely, but almost certain.
Regardless, the first challenge of Cameron’s successor – whoever he or she is – is to justify a decision NOT to hold a general election. For the first time in a while, the Conservatives will be on the back foot, their ‘sweet majority’ swept cleanly from underneath their feet.
So take out your posters, rosettes, clipboards and loudhailers – it seems we have a general election to fight.