The UK is once again searching for a new leader after Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned six weeks into her disastrous premiership.
Truss’ successor will be the fifth prime minister to lead the country since he voted for Brexit in 2016, a decision that ultimately led to the current political chaos.
And while a general election seems like the obvious way forward, Brits (and their dogs) are unlikely to be lining up at the polls any time soon. Here’s why.
In the UK, general elections must be held at least every five years.
Fortunately for the Conservative Party, currently in power but trailing the opposition in the polls, the next vote is not due until January 2025.
This is because in the UK the Prime Minister is not directly elected by the people. In fact, four of the last five British prime ministers came into office without a general election.
Truss is in Downing Street because he is the leader of the largest party in the House of Commons. Around 172,000 members of the Conservative Party elected him after the departure of Boris Johnson, who became prime minister without a general election after winning the party’s leadership contest in 2019, although he called and won a new vote in December that year. .
Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, also became prime minister without an election, as did Labour’s Gordon Brown when he replaced Tony Blair in 2007.
The Conservative Party is still the largest in Parliament, so its new leader will automatically become Prime Minister.
Although the last leadership election lasted nearly two months – longer than Truss will spend as prime minister – the next one will be quick.
Graham Brady, head of the 1922 Committee, which represents Conservative members of parliament, said on Thursday that a new PM would be chosen by next Friday.
To narrow the field, candidates to replace Truss will need at least 100 nominations from Conservative MPs, meaning there will be a maximum of three people in the running.
no The next general election must be held before January 2025.
However, the prospect of Britain seeing a third prime minister since the last poll in 2019 and a second coming to power without a public vote will put pressure on Truss’s successor to seek a new mandate from the public.
The last time three successive Prime Ministers entered Downing Street without standing in a general election was before and during the Second World War.
The opposition, sensing an opportunity, is pushing for a new vote. Labor leader Keir Starmer, who is leading in the opinion polls, repeated calls for an early general election on Thursday. “After 12 years of Tory defeat, the British people deserve much better than this revolving door of chaos,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also called for an early vote, saying “a new general election is now a democratic imperative”.
Given the many protests, jokes and memes, many are excited. In September a public petition calling for new elections was launched. It collected more than 715,000 signatures and was debated in parliament earlier this week.
However, the public can do little if the Conservative Party, which firmly controls parliament, decides not to call an election. For many conservative lawmakers, voting in an early election would spell the end of their political careers. The odds of that happening will be low.