A November election?

No, no, not in Canada, but the Financial Times suggests that the United Kingdom* might boris-johnson-wave-1024x580go to the polls in early November. The report says that “Boris Johnson would hold a general election in the “days after” the UK has left the EU on October 31 if he is forced to go to the polls should a parliamentary no-confidence vote succeed against his government, senior aides to the prime minister have said … [and] … Mr Johnson has said he does not want to hold an election before Brexit, but his advisers expect him to face a confidence vote soon after parliament returns from its summer break. Senior figures in the Labour party have said they are planning to try to topple his government in early September.

There’s a bit of constitutional controversy involved. The FT reports that “On Thursday, Downing Street stepped up its efforts to persuade MPs opposed to a no-deal Brexit, particularly Conservatives, that bringing down the Johnson government would not derail its Brexit strategy. The prime minister is similarly keen to disabuse EU leaders of the notion that parliament can thwart leaving without a deal … [but] … “We can’t stop them forcing an election but we control the timetable so we will force the date after October 31,” said a senior Downing Street official. “If there must be a general election, then it will be days after October 31.” Another close aide imagesto Mr Johnson did not deny that any election would be held in the first few days of November .. [however] … Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, has written to Mark Sedwill, head of the civil service, seeking a ruling that the government would have to delay Brexit until after the election “to let the electorate decide”. He accused the prime minister of an “unprecedented, unconstitutional and anti-democratic abuse of power” …[because] … By convention … [which is HUGELY important in the (unwritten) British constitution] … government does not take major policy decisions during an election campaign.

So, just to ‘spitball‘ the timing: the House of Commons, in London, resumes sitting on 3 September; it may take a day or two, even a week, for Jeremy Corbyn to introduce and pass a no-confidence motion, but let’s say the motion passes on Tuesday, 10 September. Now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, by convention, 14 days to introduce and pass a confidence motion but, assuming he cannot manage that then he must go to see the Queen on or before 24 September and then there is a 25 work or business day campaign period. Twenty-five business days after 24 September is 29 October, before the Brexit. It is possible, even very likely (and normal) that the Queen will prorogue parliament for a few days, less than a week,  before it is formally dissolved to allow for a “wash-up” period, that would likely extend the election date until 5 November, and since, by convention again, elections in Britain are usually held on a Tuesday it is possible that the British could be voting on Tuesday, 5 November, just days after a “no-deal Brexit” takes effect. Some observers suggest the election could even be held on Friday, 1 November, the day after the United Kingdom “crashes out” of the EU without a deal.

This may work to Boris Johnson’s advantage. If the Brexit is a done deal then there is little point in voting for either Labour or the Liberal-Democrats in the hopes that they will stop it, is there?

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* I wonder how long we might keep using that term if, post-Brexit, if Scotland, as seems likely to me, holds another referendum and this time the ‘Leave’ side wins.

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