The UK government right now is nowhere close to having the majority of seats. They really need new elections, which at the moment IMO are not in the interest of the opposition.

If the government really wants new elections, and the opposition doesn't, for how long could the opposition with a 20 seat majority prevent elections from happening?

  • Can the majority really be called the opposition?
    – Based
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 7:49
  • 1
    @PeterPaff Yes, if they are not in coalition with one another. Otherwise, Parliament in its entirety is simply a "majority" and no opposition exists at all. More correctly, "the opposition" means the largest party that is not the government. You don't need a majority to be a government (as is the case right now).
    – JBentley
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 8:18

2 Answers 2


Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the next election is due on 5 May 2022. If the opposition has a strong enough desire to do so, it can delay any election until that date.

  • 2
    Frankly the opposition can delay as much as they want, assuming they have a majority and the stomach for being called chicken every day; a majority is all it takes to amend a law, including FTPA. Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 19:32
  • 3
    @Fizz A majority in the House of Commons is probably not enough to extend the maximum lifetime of a Parliament beyond 5 years -- the Parliament Acts explicitly can't be used to pass legislation doing that.
    – cpast
    Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 21:00
  • 8
    That's really the only constraint - there was no election for 8 years during WW1 (one would have been due in 1915) and for ten years during WW2, with annual prolongation acts being passed through Commons and Lords: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Rich
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 3:52
  • The government could propose a motion disregarding FTPA and dissolving parliament. This would require a simple (1 vote) majority, rather than the two thirds of all MPs (voting or not) required by FTPA. The government has not done this [probably] because such a motion would be amendable, opening many large cans of worms. That might not be the case after 31 October.
    – user20637
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 19:19
  • 2
    @user20637 Yes, but it is worth noting that the opposition has a majority to block this as well.
    – Joe C
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 19:48

@JoeC is correct.

Also bear in mind that it is possible to change the government without calling an election. If Johnson were to resign as Prime Minister then he would get to nominate a successor. I don't know who he would nominate that could form a government. It would be a chance to nominate a less divisive Tory (e.g. Ken Clarke), but given he's just been kicked out of the party, that seems unlikely.

If the Prime Minister's nominee cannot form a government, the Queen should ask the leader of the next largest party (Jeremy Corbyn) if he could command a majority in the House of Commons. With the appropriate caveats (and probably a promise of elections after No Deal is avoided), he probably can. Whether he is willing to take office under such restrictions remains uncertain.

  • 4
    If you think that Ken Clarke is a less divisive Conservative, you may be suffering from delusion. Also, Ken Clarke isn't a Conservative, he's an ex-Conservative.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 19:38
  • 3
    The worst thing about this whole mess is finding myself on the same side as people I used to despise, like Clarke and Hestletine. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 20:34
  • @Valorum The answer already covers your second point
    – JBentley
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 8:24
  • @JBentley - Edited.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 8:28

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