Under the assumption that Boris Johnson becomes PM and intends to carry out a no-deal Brexit on the 31st of October, Dominic Grieve has said a number of MPs would be willing to bring down the government.

Former cabinet ministers could be among those who feel they have no choice but to vote down a Boris Johnson administration in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit, Dominic Grieve has said.

Given that one mechanism under discussion for forcing through no-deal against the will of Parliament is proroguing and that calling a General Election also involves proroguing Parliament.

The formal end of a Parliament is called dissolution. Parliament is dissolved automatically 25 working days before a general election. The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 provides that general elections take place every five years on the first Thursday in May.


Parliament is normally prorogued a few days before dissolution takes place. At prorogation, all parliamentary business ends but Parliament continues to exist until dissolution.

What is the latest date a successful vote of no-confidence could allow time for a General Election and prevent a no-deal Brexit?

  • 3
    Do you wish us to assume that the EU and parliament wouldn't vary the legal time of exit day if a general election were being called?
    – origimbo
    Jul 16, 2019 at 12:49
  • @origimbo Yes I think so. After all the reason it would be called would be because the PM wouldn't negotiate an extension. So under worst case scenario that no one is willing to make changes until a new government is in place, when does time run out?
    – Jontia
    Jul 16, 2019 at 12:51
  • Assuming that the EU wouldn't be willing to wait a few days more after they have shown that they are willing to wait half a year more is unrealistic. This makes the question not so useful because the truth is that there is no such exact date. Jul 17, 2019 at 20:29
  • @Trilarion it is not the EU being willing to wait that is the issue,it is the legislation as currently written and the PM being willing to go for no-deal by default.
    – Jontia
    Jul 17, 2019 at 21:08
  • 2
    @Jontia No-deal is the default already since March 2017 and the UK Parliament has not agreed to anything else so far. If there were indications that there would be a majority for anything else (remain, referendum, general elections, ...) then the participating politicians would just stop the clock and do that, I guess. So far, there is no such indication. However, politics makes the rules it operates under. That's why dates are not that strict and our common understanding of deadlines does not apply. Every day no-deal gets more likely but the likelihood will not be 100% until the last moment. Jul 17, 2019 at 21:21

1 Answer 1


According to this article from PoliticsHome, the latest date on which a vote of no confidence could be held in order to have a general election before 31 October 2019 is 3 September, which could trigger an election on Thursday 24 October (see below for full analysis).

This assumes that any election would be on a Thursday, which is a matter of convention, not law. Also, this still only gives a week for the new parliament to meet and begin operation. In practice it typically takes longer than that - though for Brexit to be delayed or cancelled, whoever became PM after such an election could do the former, and probably the latter, without parliamentary approval.

The article points out that if a VoNC were to be held on 25 July, an election could be held on 19 or 26 September.

Full analysis from the above article:

The House of Commons returns from its summer recess on Tuesday 3 September. If MPs wanted to debate a statutory motion of no confidence that day, the Leader of the Opposition would have to table the motion before the House rose for summer recess (i.e. by Thursday 25 July). The vote would then be expected to take place in the afternoon or evening of Tuesday 3 September – the first day back after recess. If that motion passed, a 14-calendar day statutory period under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 would begin at midnight.

If, by the end of Tuesday 17 September no subsequent ‘motion of confidence’ had been passed in Her Majesty’s Government, an early general election would be triggered.

The date of an early election is set by Crown proclamation. The prime minister advises the Queen what the date should be. In this case, that proclamation could be made no earlier than Wednesday 18 September.

Parliament cannot be dissolved until after the proclamation is made. Dissolution must happen at the beginning of the 25th working day before polling day. The earliest Parliament could be dissolved would be Thursday 19 September, which would mean a polling day of Thursday 24 October had been set by proclamation.

Unless Article 50 is extended again, the UK unilaterally revokes Article 50, or a deal has been ratified by the UK and the EU, the UK leaves the EU by automatic operation of law at 11pm on 31 October 2019. The last potential Thursday polling day before exit day is 24 October.

  • It is really interesting to note, that the summer recess essentially means the VoNC has to be triggered almost immediately on the new PM taking office.
    – Jontia
    Jul 17, 2019 at 8:20
  • @Jontia: indeed. The article also notes that if the government wants the Commons to meet during the summer recess, it has the power to do that (either by asking the Commons to agree to change the recess dates before the recess starts, or asking the Speaker to recall the Commons once the recess has started). Jul 17, 2019 at 10:11
  • @Jontia the other complication is that the VoNC will have to be triggered before the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election. The result of that may be critical - if the Tories win, the Government will have a majority of 5 (including the DUP). If they lose the majority will be only 3.
    – stuart10
    Jul 18, 2019 at 7:55
  • I assume that this analysis is based on the government having to be forced to hold a general election through a no confidence vote. We were already past the 3rd September date when Boris Johnson failed to secure a 15th October election date under the Fixed term parliament act.
    – Mark Booth
    Sep 5, 2019 at 15:37
  • 1
    @MarkBooth: yes, and it includes the 14 days after the VoNC before an election can be triggered. However, for the 2/3 vote option, the election can be triggered immediately. A second attempt at that is scheduled for Monday; if it succeeds, an election could (I believe) occur on Tue 15 Oct. Sep 5, 2019 at 15:41

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