According to some of the answers given to this question, it is possible that Boris Johnson could try to call an early UK general election by ordinary law, through an act of Parliament, which would not require approval by a 2/3 majority of MPs.

One of the downsides suggested for that strategy was that his political opponents might try to force amendments to the bill that would be undesirable for the PM, such as requiring him to request an extension to Brexit from the EU.

However, given that at this point he has already failed to prevent a bill being passed that would force a Brexit extension, why would he not attempt to call an election by ordinary law at this point? What does he have to lose?

Especially as it seems likely (according to this article) that he would easily achieve a simple majority (on September 4th, 298 MPs voted for an early election and only 56 voted against).

  • 2
    298 MPs is not a majority. With the speaker, Sinn Fein etc taken out a Majority of voting MPs is around 313. As in the Cooper Amendment Just because MPs didn't vote when they knew the didn't have to doesn't mean they would vote for a simple majority ordinary law.
    – Jontia
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 15:53
  • @Jontia ah, so he's still a few MPs short of a majority. My mistake.
    – Time4Tea
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 15:56

1 Answer 1


The PM has a huge amount to lose in terms of calling a General Election via an Ordinary Law.

First off, he could lose the vote. As I noted in a comment 298 MPs is not a majority of the house of Commons. After removing non-voting speakers, and non-sitting Sinn Fein you still need around 313 votes to be certain of a majority as the Cooper Amendment showed.

Secondly using ordinary legislation means the bill would be amendable as you've noted. There are any number of ways this could go wrong for the PM, including reversing the Kinnock Amendment assuming it is true that the government engaged in shenanigans to get the amendment onto the anti-no-deal bill in the first place.

Finally it would remove any ambiguity over the date of such an election. This being the reason MPs are currently giving for not voting for the election under the Fixed Term Parliament act. Ordinary legislation would have to include a date (which could be amended) and the PM would lose the ability to change it after the legislation passed. This is not the case with a motion under the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

A fresh vote on an early election is scheduled for Monday; Another Vote. But it's not clear to me if this is under Ordinary Legislation or the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

  • inews.co.uk/news/politics/… "Announcing the business for next week, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “(There will be) a motion relating to an early parliamentary general election." That probably means another FTPA motion. I suspect there have already or may be trying to reach a deal with the opposition; the government has dropped all 86 amendments to the Benn bill in the Lords, which was basically a filibuster attempt. I suspect they got something in exchange for this, which could well be an agreement on an a general election (date). Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 17:14
  • @Fizz Based on the tweet of the order of business from Heidi Allen, this is literally the same motion as yesterday. Which might mean needing to convince the Speaker of the need to ask the question. twitter.com/heidiallen75/status/…
    – origimbo
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 17:54
  • @origimbo: since it made it to the printed schedule, the Speaker probably approved it already. Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 18:14
  • The same motion can go twice if circumstances have changed. The Benn bill being passed counts. Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 11:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .