I know that the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 says that

Early elections can be held only:

  • if a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division; or
  • if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.

What is the minimum time frame that such early elections can be held? Based on Theresa May's snap elections, it seems that 6 weeks is the minimum, but is there any legal standard, or is it only tied to what Parliament itself will pass?


In the words of the act

The polling day for the election is to be the day appointed by Her Majesty by proclamation on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

In other words, the PM can decide the date of the election. However, "The Parliament then in existence dissolves at the beginning of the 17th working day before the polling day", so a Prime Minister cannot call an election immediately. (Sat, sun and bank holidays are not considered working days for this purpose)

There is no upper limit in the act for how long the PM can wait, however, she would be expected to name the date before, or at least soon after the passing of a motion calling an early general election.

  • Of course, if the PM can get the agreement of Parliament, they can pass an act and declare that the election will take place the following day. (It is unlikely Parliament would agree to such a bill though.) Nov 15 '18 at 15:00
  • The Labour Party are already calling for an Election. If even a tiny number of Tory MPs will vote with Labour, such a Bill will easily be passed. It is not the Opposition who fear an election, since they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
    – Ed999
    Nov 16 '18 at 15:42

There is no minimum time-frame.

The Government may choose to introduce a Bill, to repeal the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, at any time. Government business managers could pass the measure through both Houses of Parliament within a week, at least if there is cross party support.

The Labour Party is most anxious to bring-on a General Election. It is inconceivable they would oppose such a Bill, which could probably make it onto the Statute Books within 48 hours in a case of urgency.

  • Are you speaking in terms of the fixed-term parliament act, or in terms of the practical side of holding an election? On the latter front, there are a lot of different things interacting to give a minimum time frame. electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/word_doc/0005/173066/…
    – origimbo
    Nov 16 '18 at 15:51
  • I'm considering the repeal of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. Since the Opposition are always keen to hold a General Election, because they have nothing to lose, they will always vote for an election. Under the Act, Mrs May needs a minimum number of votes to hold an early election. But to repeal the Act needs far fewer votes. She would more easily obtain the repeal of the Act, because it needs fewer votes. With about 100 of her own MPs in open rebellion, she might find it more convenient to aim for the less ambitious objective of simply repealling the Act.
    – Ed999
    Nov 28 '18 at 0:55

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