This weekend Shadow Defence Minister Toby Perkins has warned the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn that they should be ready for a snap election in the next year. This would be on the basis that after the EU referendum David Cameron would either resign or be forced out leading to the installation of a new Conservative leader and Prime Minister who may want to go to the country early.
In order to achieve this the government would have to find a way around the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. This was introduced in September 2011 and legislated for fixed-term elections to the British Parliament. Elections were to be held every five years with the next election due to take place in 2020. There are two provisions though within the act which could facilitate an early General Election.
The first provision would be if the House of Commons returned a vote of no confidence in the government. The second provision and more likely would be if the House of Commons with the support of two thirds of its membership resolved there would be a General Election. This would be conditional on the support of the Labour Party who would have to consider whether they could turn down the request of the government to go the country.
The political dividends are clear to see from a Conservative perspective. The Labour Party is divided and under Jeremy Corbyn are in no place to win an election. The Conservatives only have a small majority and may see this as a chance to increase the size of their majority. Politically it may be considered a risk but while the polls show a clear Conservative lead it will remain a temptation.
The reality is this scenario is a long way off. We are yet to know the date of the EU referendum and it is far from clear that Cameron will leave regardless of the result, thus ending the possibility of a snap election. A snap election would be a bold move from a government and a new Prime Minister and would have to be well considered before being proposed.
This eventuality remains highly unlikely but is far from impossible. A political party can never be too prepared though and therefore it would be highly prudent for Labour to consider this warning and assess how they could and would deal with this. In politics you should always expect the unexpected!
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – The Daily Star