I have seen suggestions in several places now that the government may try to pass a one-line bill reading: "Notwithstanding the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, we will have a general election on 15 October." How, procedurally, would this differ from calling a general election normally, either with a 2/3 vote in the House of Commons or by a successful motion of no confidence? What obstacles for the government would it avoid?
How, procedurally, would this differ from calling a general election normally, either with a 2/3 vote in the House of Commons or by a successful motion of no confidence?
If the proposed Bill passes, then it becomes an Act with full force in law and effectively bypasses the Fixed Term Parliaments Act - a bill only requires a majority to pass.
The FTPA sets out four ways in which Parliament can pass motions in order to call a general election - motions do not become Acts, and do not pass into law. Motions called under the FTPA require a two thirds majority in order to pass and trigger the requisite actions required.
What obstacles for the government would it avoid?
Looking at the wording of the FTPA, I think this is the main obstacle that the bill would overcome:
(1) The Parliament then in existence dissolves at the beginning of the 17th working day before the polling day for the next parliamentary general election as determined under section 1 or appointed under section 2(7).
(2) Parliament cannot otherwise be dissolved.
Section 3, FTPA
The emphasised line may create legal issues for Johnson with his intention to prorogue Parliament as it would essentially give Parliament an additional week of debating - calling an election using an Act would avoid any potential legal issues around this, and essentially allow him to dissolve Parliament whenever he wanted.