I was just reading this article about Liz Truss’s seat in Norfolk, and how the constituents are slowly revoking their support.

It made me wonder what would happen in the (unlikely) scenario where the current prime minister called a general election and lost their seat.

Would there be a party leadership vote immediately after the general election? Or another general election?

Has this ever happened before?


1 Answer 1


There would be a leadership vote in the party that the ex-PM had led. If that party had a majority in the Commons, or a reasonable prospect of forming a coalition with a majority, the party's MPs would presumably install a temporary leader to serve until the leadership election was complete.

UK elections do not directly elect a prime minister, no matter how many people want to see them that way. The only way a general election can be rapidly followed by another one is if no party has a majority, and it becomes clear after several attempts that no coalition can be formed.

Other technical possibilities, not politically viable IMHO, would be:

  • Someone in the same party with a safe seat resigns from the Commons, and the former PM stands in the by-election and returns to the Commons. That would only work if the former PM was well-liked by their party and a volunteer could be found immediately. Immediately elevating the holder of the safe seat to the Lords to free the seat would almost certainly be seen as corrupt; the volunteer would have to be out of Parliament for a few months.

  • The former PM could be elevated to the Lords and be PM there. That is not politically viable these days and granting the peerage would also be seen as corrupt.

  • This is one option, but it's not the only option. The answer (and comments) to this question in particular describe other possible outcomes. Commented Oct 15, 2022 at 23:06
  • @SteveMelnikoff: Added those possibilities, but I doubt anyone would try them. Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 0:26
  • 1
    While being PM from the Lords is probably not viable (post Alec Douglas-Home) giving an MP a seat in the the Lords is rather unremarkable and I don't get why you think it would be seen as "corrupt", especially if there was a discrete pause. I think the option in the first bullet point is most likely, in what is already a rather unlikely scenario.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 3:56
  • @JamesK: I wasn't clear; revised. Commented Oct 16, 2022 at 9:19

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