<strong>Boris Johnson on the steps of Downing Street </strong>
Boris Johnson on the steps of Downing Street
Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Will There Really Be A Snap General Election In 2019?

As Boris Johnson faces division in the Commons over Brexit, will the UK actually be going to the polls in the next few weeks?

It’s the question on everybody’s lips right now – is there going to be a general election in the next few weeks? As division in the Commons over Brexit reaches a fever pitch, will voters be sent to the polls to find a solution?

Good question. Here’s everything you need to know about the situation so far and, crucially, what could happen in the coming days.

What Is A Snap General Election?

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act (the legislation that dictates the rules around general elections), general elections are supposed to be held every five years. If a public vote is called before then, it’s considered a ‘snap’ election.

What Are The Chances Of A Snap General Election?

As it stands, the chances of a snap general election are quite high.

The prime minister has vowed to push for an election if EU leaders sanction a Brexit extension of up to three months. Johnson must now wait to hear from the heads of the EU27 after his plans to fast-track his Withdrawal Agreement Bill through the Commons before the Halloween deadline hit the buffers.

The Alternative Route

<strong>The opposition could launch a vote of no-confidence in the government </strong>
The opposition could launch a vote of no-confidence in the government
Danny Lawson - PA Images via Getty Images

How Would Boris Johnson Call A Snap Election?

Under the current rules, general elections are supposed to be held every five years, meaning the next vote wouldn’t be scheduled until 5 May 2022.

So, in order to call a snap vote, the government would need to table a motion for an early election in parliament . At least two thirds of the Commons – 434 MPs – would then have to give the motion their backing in order to trigger an election. This is the most obvious route – but it’s not the only option available to the PM.

The prime minister could also table a short bill which basically overrides the current laws around elections, allowing him to call an election on a specific date. For this to succeed, he would only need 51% of MPs at the vote to back it. However, it would also need to pass through the House of Lords and would be open to amendment.

Thirdly, if Johnson was *absolutely* determined to hold an election, the government could even call a vote of no confidence in itself. Like a normal no-confidence vote, opposition parties would have 14 days to try and put together an alternative government before a public vote was called.

Does Labour Want An Election?

Yes and no. Labour is split over whether to allow Johnson to hold an early election. This morning, Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said the party would allow one to go ahead “as soon as the EU agrees that extension”. But other senior figures in the party want a May election to cut costs and boost turnout in the local and mayoral elections.

They believe that if the EU holds off its decision until next week, a November polling day is impossible, leaving a December 12 date as the other unattractive option in the run-up to Christmas.

What Do The Polls Say?

According to YouGov polling released on Tuesday morning, a general election would see the Conservative Party take 37% of the vote, with Labour on 22% of votes. The Lib Dems would come in third with 19% of the vote, with the Brexit Party on11% and the Greens on 7%.

But if we’ve learned anything from the past few years, it’s that polls can fluctuate wildly.