It looks like we could have an unusual situation in the UK (well even relatively speaking)

On 23 July, the new leader of the conservative party will be announced. Traditionally the incumbent does not stand down unless they think their successor has the confidence of the house, but this is very difficult to know without testing it.

So potentially there could be a parliamentary no-confidence vote in the new leader on the 24-25 Jul. If this fails we would be in the 14 day period where the leader has to try and find a way to get a vote in the house that the can show they have confidence. Which is pretty well explained under the exceptions in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA).

However, the house rises for its summer break on 25 Jul (note this is a break not the end of the parliamentary session) so the 14-day deadline for forming a new government can't be met. As far as I can see the FTPA specifies 14 calendar days, not sitting days.

What would happen in this situation, would the new leader just have to sit on their hands for 14 days before going to see the Queen and calling an election?


1 Answer 1


According to this article from PoliticsHome, the assertion in the question is essentially correct. If the Commons isn't planning to meet within the 14 day period mentioned in the FTPA, then no vote of confidence can be passed, and an election must then follow.

To quote from the article:

The Commons rises for summer recess on Thursday 25 July. If MPs wanted to debate a statutory motion of no confidence that day, the Leader of the Opposition would need to table the motion before the House rises on Wednesday 24 July. The vote would likely then take place on Thursday 25 July, and if it passed the 14-day period would begin at midnight.

If, by the end of Thursday 8 August, no subsequent ‘motion of confidence’ had been passed, an early general election would be triggered.

The Crown proclamation setting the date of the poll could be made no earlier than Friday 9 August. Assuming there is no significant delay, one of two plausible polling dates might be set by proclamation in those circumstances: Thursday 19 or 26 of September.


If a resolution of no confidence was adopted just before summer recess [...] there would be little opportunity either for the current government to regain the confidence of the House, or for another government to gain its confidence before the 14-calendar day period expires. Either the House would need to have agreed to change the summer recess dates before recess starts, or the government would have to ask for a recall of Parliament on or before Thursday 8 August.

  • Doesn't the Speaker have the ability to recall the house on couple of days notice if he believes that it's what the majority of MPs want, or am I misremembering?
    – origimbo
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 17:56
  • @origimbo I think it’s only at the request of the Government; will check when I’m at my computer. Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 17:58
  • 2
    It looks like you're right: parliament.uk/about/how/occasions/recallparliament, although that does leave an interesting loophole as to whether a new group that has the support of the house counts as a government before receiving a formal vote of confidence.
    – origimbo
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 18:06
  • @origimbo The government is whoever is appointed by the PM, and the PM is whoever is appointed by the Queen. The Commons is not involved in that process, though it is free to hold a confidence vote once a new government is appointed, or any time thereafter. Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 20:54

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