Calls for a General Election in the United Kingdom are gaining popularity as members of the public and journalists alike have rediscovered a Theresa May quote from 2007 in which she claimed the unelected Prime Minister Gordon Brown had no mandate.
Writing on the Conservative Home website when Mr. Brown took over as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister from Tony Blair, Ms. May said: “[W]henever Gordon Brown chooses to call a general election, we will be ready for him. He has no democratic mandate. He has a reputation tainted by his failures after a decade in office. And he has no new ideas. An early election? Bring it on.”
But the calls may be scuppered by the relatively new Fixed Term Parliament Act (2011) which established set five-year terms for each government. Prior to this, the date of General Elections were usually set by the prime minister of the day, given him or her an advantage over the opposition.
The Fixed Term Parliament Act does however include a clause wherever with a two-thirds majority of Parliament, an election can be called.
It says, under the heading: “Early parliamentary general elections” that “An early parliamentary general election is to take place if— (a) the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection (2), and (b) if the motion is passed on a division, the number of members who vote in favour of the motion is a number equal to or greater than two thirds of the number of seats in the House (including vacant seats)”.
This means the House of Commons has to pass a two-thirds vote of no confidence in the government of the day to trigger an election. The House then has 14 days to vote through a motion of confidence in order to cancel it.
This constitutional vandalism was implemented by David Cameron in cahoots with the Liberal Democrat Party and seemingly needlessly complicates how elections are conducted in Britain, albeit under the guise of simplifying the process.
Hannah Fearn at the Independent notes: “By now the naysayers among you will be cautioning that that is not how parliamentary democracy works. We elect MPs, who then self-organise; we do not elect a president. Of course, that is literally the case, but in recent years the charisma and ability of individuals, rather than the collective power of the group, has come to define politics. How else to explain Boris Johnson and the core role he played in securing the vote in favour of Brexit? And cast your mind back (an almost incomprehensibly long way back now) to the success of the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 general election: that was all about Nick Clegg and “Cleggmania”.
“When Gordon Brown took power in 2007 and he hesitated over a snap election, she said he was “running scared of the people’s verdict”. But Brown knew an early vote was a risk. After more than a decade in power, boredom with the status quo would have put Labour at a significant electoral disadvantage. May has no such matters to trouble her. The opposition is in disarray and she is the beholder of the “safe pair of hands” that European leaders, the City, businesses and the people want to see steer them through since Cameron’s departure. If Theresa May wants to be a unifier, there is no reason to hesitate. A November general election would be my best bet.”