A bill that's passed both houses then needs Royal Assent from the Queen to pass into law & by constitutional convention the Queen always follows advice of ministers (the PM) on these matters.

It appears to be unequivocal (them's the rules) if controversial (a lot of people don't like it) that this is the case & there's nothing parliament can do about it, for the purpose of this question I'm assuming that is the case & the PM does it. If you have any comment to the contrary please make them in comments rather than an answer.

If the PM does advise the Queen not to give Royal Assent to the new Brexit delay bill, aka the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill, then the only remaining route to stop Brexit seems to be a vote of no confidence to force a new election.

However, if no clear alternative government has or can form a majority in the house (& at this point it seems implausible in the extreme Corbyn or any other could negotiate enough support from other groups to do so) then it's GE time.. that leaves Boris as PM & the PM sets the date for the GE.

Is there anything to stop him setting the date of the election after 31 October if that happens?

  • 2
    Boris just gave the anti-no-dealers 21 newly-minted independent MPs to choose between as potential caretaker PMs. I'm not saying it's likely, but it's more likely than it was last week.
    – Kevin
    Sep 5, 2019 at 4:20
  • The opposition was unhappy with the PM setting a GE date before 31 October. That was the motion defeated last night. That is because the PM could benefit from such elections before he has to obey the Benn bill. A new Parliament (elected before Oct 31) could nullify the the Benn bill before it takes effect. Parliamentary sovereignty and all that. Sep 5, 2019 at 5:10
  • @Fizz : Yup, at the moment they'd lose pretty badly & if he did a deal with the BP it could be a landslide, after 31st it might even be worse if he's already taken us out, about the only chance they've got is to somehow frustrate the 31st but it doesn't look like they have a mechanism to do it?
    – Pelinore
    Sep 5, 2019 at 5:50
  • 1
    @Fizz If I'm reading everything correctly the Oppositions unhappiness at using the Fixed term parliament act to call an election is that it doesn't require a date to be set and they don't trust him to stick to the date he's given.
    – Jontia
    Sep 5, 2019 at 8:40

2 Answers 2


It appears there is not.

This is the reason given by Opposition MPs for opposing the call for a General Election under the Fixed-term Parliament Act.

The most direct quote I could find comes from the Metro

The party’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said they do not trust the Prime Minister’s proposal to hold an election on October 15. He told Sky News: ‘We are not voting for a general election today. ‘We are not dancing to Boris Johnson’s tune. If Johnson says the election will be on October 15 no one trusts him.’ He added: ‘When he [Johnson] says the 15th of October, I can tell you across all the opposition parties and some Tory MPs, they do not trust him.’ Critics of Mr Johnson fear an election could be a move to force a no-deal by delaying the date of the vote.

  • I did see Emily Thornberry answering this question on the BBC, but I've been unable to find a video snippet or write up. If I recall correctly she directly called Johnson a known liar and untrustworthy.
    – Jontia
    Sep 5, 2019 at 8:44

An act of Parliament could amend the FTPA to remove from the PM the power to fix the date of the election.

However, this act would also require Royal Assent; so in a hypothetical scenario where the PM has already recommended that the Queen withhold assent on an earlier bill, the same problem would occur here.

Since this would already be well outside conventional norms, the next solution might be for the Commons to issue a Humble Address, asking the Queen to dismiss the PM, and recommending that she appoint their choice instead.

  • They pretty much all require Royal Assent, Queens Consent (needed for anything that encroaches on the prerogatives of the crown including those 'loaned' to the PM & government) which comes before (& doesn't cancel the subsequent need for) Royal Assent is what your thinking of I think?
    – Pelinore
    Sep 5, 2019 at 16:10
  • 1
    @Pelinore: no, I meant what I wrote, i.e.: if the PM were to advise the Queen to withhold Royal Assent for one bill, one could imagine he would do the same for another bill. (Incidentally, it appears that Queen's Consent was not required for the EU(W) #6 Bill, which was handy, as that might have been refused!) Sep 5, 2019 at 20:05
  • OK, so you're saying you think a humble address (that is non binding) is perhaps their only potential avenue to prevent him setting a date after the 331st 'if' he was minded to & 'if' he's also willing to use Royal Assent to prevent a bill forcing him not to?
    – Pelinore
    Sep 5, 2019 at 20:28
  • @Pelinore: well, using it in this way would be highly unusual and not guaranteed to succeed, and would put the Queen in a very difficult position; but in this hypothetical scenario, what would the House have to lose by trying? Sep 5, 2019 at 20:32

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