In Depth

Should Theresa May call an early general election?

William Hague warns 'trouble is coming' over Brexit and urges PM to look for bigger majority

Should the UK hold a snap general election?

12 July

Opposition parties have called for a general election once Theresa May becomes prime minister. The Tories have found a leader two months earlier than planned, after Andrea Leadsom, May's only remaining rival, dropped out of the race yesterday. But could any other party really beat the Conservatives and is May under any obligation to call a vote?

Why do the other parties want an early election?

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Ukip and the Greens have all signalled support for another election. Labour's election coordinator and key Corbyn ally, Jon Trickett, says it is "crucial" that the country has a democratically elected prime minister following the instability caused by the Brexit vote.

The Tory leadership election has "turned into a coronation", says Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, who believes the Conservatives now have "no mandate".

"It is simply inconceivable that Theresa May should be crowned prime minister without even having won an election in her own party, let alone the country," he writes in The Guardian

The Daily Mirror, which is also campaigning for a general election, says 199 Tory MPs chose May as the new PM - "just 0.0004 per cent of the population".

Could any other party win?

The latest voting intention poll, published by ICM yesterday but carried out before Leadsom dropped out of the race, gave the Conservatives 38 per cent to Labour's 30 per cent, an eight-point lead that is slightly larger than in last year's election. The Greens took four per cent, the Lib Dems eight per cent and Ukip 15 per cent.

Labour moderates told the Daily Telegraph the call for a snap general election is "the equivalent of running full pelt off the edge of a cliff" and could see the party lose up to 100 MPs. 

What has Theresa May said?

May is under no legal obligation to hold a general election before 2020. Her position is secured by the rules of the Conservative Party and the Fixed Term Parliament Act, which states that government stays in office for five years after each general election unless there is a vote of no confidence passed by two-thirds of MPs.

"In theory, Mrs May could call a vote of no confidence in herself and expect the opposition parties to vote with her," says the Daily Mirror, but she has "already signalled she has no plans to do this".

The newspaper suggests there is a "moral" pressure on May, who herself demanded Gordon Brown face a general election when he became prime minister in 2007.

"Whenever Gordon Brown chooses to call a general election, we will be ready for him.  He has no democratic mandate," she wrote at the time. "He has a reputation tainted by his failures after a decade in office. And he has no new ideas. An early election? Bring it on."

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