When Will The Next British General Election Be?

Since the drama of election night earlier in June 2017, many want to know when the next British general election will be.

Given that the Conservatives do not command a majority of the House of Commons, some think it will be soon. Not many Tories are optimistic about a long-lasting term, either. Realistically speaking, how soon is too soon?

Next British General Election: The Earliest

If the Queen’s Speech doesn’t pass the House, that’s bad, bad news for the Conservatives. It is expected to, but for the Tory agenda laid out in the speech to fail is a major problem.

Such an event may create a crisis of confidence in which the opposition moves a motion against the prime minister. That may pass, barely, but for a government to crack so badly early on is a sign it won’t last.

There is no recent historical precedent for a government lasting fewer than eight months in between elections. Let’s therefore say the earliest the next general election date is around February 2018.

Next British General Election: The Latest

In 2011, Parliament passed legislation fixing the terms of parliament. If there is no non-confidence vote or Parliamentary override, the next election will happen on May 5, 2022.

That would require nothing short of a political miracle for the Conservatives.

Next British General Election: Hanging With Hung Parliaments

On June 7, most British electoral analysts would have told you to expect Theresa May back tomorrow with a bigger majority. So, when those same people tell you she won’t last the year, take it with a grain of salt. Hell, take it with the whole Morton factory. Nevertheless, it does make sense. Theresa May was mortally wounded by the snap election, and while the Tories may find a way out of this mess, she won’t. It’s a matter of time before the end of her premiership.

Ongoing Brexit negotiations make an immediate change in Conservative leader unlikely. As time progresses, however, the likelihood of a coup increases. Whomever this person is, perhaps Boris Johnson, would have to be acceptable to the party as a whole. Not only that, but the DUP must be willing to play ball with the new leader. At some point, the DUP’s price may be too high for the Tories, anyway.

There isn’t much data on hung parliaments in the United Kingdom, as there have only been three since World War II. Two have been in the last decade. Therefore, there is not much history to which to point. What we do know is that one of them, in 1974, resulted in an election eight months later. David Cameron’s in 2010 was backed by a full coalition and the government did not fall.

No coalition here, but May’s Tories aren’t as deep in the hole as Harold Wilson’s Labour in the middle of 1974. That Labour government was 17 seats shy of a majority; a two-party majority coalition was impossible. The 2017 Tories are only nine short and, for now, have a few friends helping. The Sinn Fein no-shows also make it a little easier to command a majority vote.

Next British General Election: Reality

A second 2017 election is a little too pessimistic for the Conservatives. Their numbers aren’t great, but aren’t in danger of cracking for now. Further, Labour, the SNP, and the Lib Dems together don’t have the Tories’ seat total. Things would have to go badly to an extraordinary level for there to be another 2017 poll.

2018 looks more likely, but 2019 is even more likely than that. Chances are, with or without May, the Tories can hang on for a little while.

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