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UK General Election: Date, polls, candidates and more

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called for a general election to be held on 4th July as the nation prepares to go to the polls.

It's the first general election since 2019, with Labour looking set to win a majority for the first time since 2005.

We have all you need to know ahead of the 2024 UK general election below.

Next general election date

The next UK general election will be on 4th July 2024.

How does the UK general election work?

The United Kingdom will go to the polls on 4th July 2024 and cast a vote for a local MP. In the United Kingdom, constituents vote for a member of parliament as opposed to a Prime Minister (in the United States, voters cast their vote for who they want to be the next president via the Electoral College system).

The leader of the party with the most MPs after the election will be invited to form a government by King Charles III.

There are a total of 650 seats available in the United Kingdom, meaning a party needs 326 or more to be able to form a majority government. If no party is able to form a majority government, they may either seek a coalition with another party (as the Conservatives did with the Liberal Democrats in 2010), or look to form a minority government (as Theresa May's government did with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland in 2017).

General election candidates

While a general election in the United Kingdom sees constituents vote for individual MPs (who either represent a party or act as independents) as opposed to a Prime Minister, the UK electoral system means that, essentially, voters are voting for who they want the Prime Minister to be.

While the major parties will stand hundreds of candidates around the country, the main candidates to be the next Prime Minster are Rishi Sunak, the Conservative Party leader, and Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour Party leader.

Last general election

The last United Kingdom general election was held on 12th December 2019.

The Conservative Party won 365 seats (a majority of 80), the Labour Party won 202 seats and the Scottish National Party 48 seats. The Conservatives gained a total of 48 seats from the 2017 election, while Labour lost 60 from 2017.

General election parties

There are expected to be seven major parties contesting the 2024 general election in England, Scotland and Wales, with a full breakdown below.

Conservatives

Chairman: Richard Holden
Leader: Rishi Sunak
Deputy Leader: Oliver Dowden
Chancellor: Jeremy Hunt
Home Secretary: James Cleverly
Health Secretary: Victoria Atkins
Foreign Secretary: David Cameron

Labour

Chair: Annaliese Dodds
Leader: Sir Keir Starmer
Deputy leader: Angela Rayner
Shadow Chancellor: Rachel Reeves
Shadow Home Secretary: Yvette Cooper
Shadow Health Secretary: Wes Streeting
Shadow Foreign Secretary: David Lammy

Liberal Democrats

President: Mark Pack
Leader: Sir Ed Davey
Deputy Leader: Daisy Cooper

Scottish National Party

President: Vacant
Leader: John Swinney
Depute Leader: Keith Brown
Westminster Leader: Stephen Flynn

General election polls

The most recent YouGov poll from 11th June outlining voting intention has Labour on 38% and the Conservatives on 18%.

Labour were as low as 28% in the aftermath of the 2019 general election and May 2021, but peaked at 52% following the 2022 mini-budget.

The lowest the Conservatives previously fell to was 19% after the mini-budget, falling from a high of 53% in April 2020 at the start of the first Covid lockdown.

Reform UK, the rebranded Brexit party, has steadily been taking voters from the Conservatives and reached a peak of 16% in March. Currently at 17%, it is the third most popular party ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 15% and the Green Party on 8%.

What are election deposits?

A deposit is a sum of money a parliamentary candidate must pay to an electoral authority before standing for an election. For general elections in the United Kingdom, the amount is £500.

In order to see their deposit returned at a general election, a candidate must receive at least 5% of the valid votes cast, and failure to see a deposit returned is typically seen as an embarrassment, particularly for major parties.

What is a Portillo moment?

A 'Portillo moment' is when a leading MP loses their seat, and is named after Michael Portillo, the former Conservative MP who was Defence Secretary at the time of his unseating from the previously safe Enfield Southgate seat in the 1997 general election.

How long have the Conservatives been in power?

The Conservatives have been in power for 14 years.

After losing office in 1997, the Conservatives spent 13 years out of Downing Street before the David Cameron-led coalition with Nick Clegg's Lib Dems saw the Tories back in power. The Conservatives won a majority at the 2015 election, ending the coalition, before losing their majority under Theresa May in 2017 and regaining it in 2019 under Boris Johnson.

How long was Liz Truss Prime Minster for?

Liz Truss was Prime Minster for 49 days, having being elected the Conservative Party leader on 6th September 2022, resigning on 20th October 2022, and leaving office on 25th October 2022, to be replaced by Rishi Sunak, making her the shortest-serving Prime Minister in history.

How many Conservative MPs are there?

There are currently 344 Conservative MPs, a sizeable decline from the 365 elected in 2019. In the last four years, the Conservatives have lost 21 MPs due to defections, resignations and by-elections.

How many Labour MPs are there?

There are currently 205 Labour MPs. Despite winning numerous by-elections and adding several MPs since the 2019 general election, Labour have lost nearly as many MPs as they've gained, owing largely to suspensions and resignations.

Who can call a general election?

The Prime Minister is the only person who can call a general election (with the unused technicality of a monarch, who can also dissolve parliament without the Prime Minister's permission).

How long is a political term in the UK?

Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, parliament must be dissolved five years after it first met, with around five weeks allowed to prepare for the upcoming election.

This means the latest a general election could be held in the UK was on 28th January.

When will the new Prime Minster take power?

The new Prime Minister will move into 10 Downing Street the day after the election, so in this case, on 5th July 2024.

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