Looking past election night – what could happen next?

Who will be residing next in Number 10 and Number 11? Source: Garry Knight (via Flickr).

Gair Rhydd politics takes you through some of the procedures involved in forming a government should the election result in a hung parliament or a majority.

In the event of a hung Parliament…

A hung Parliament is when no single party gains a majority of seats in the House of Commons, this figure is 326 seats. 

When there is no majority, the Prime Minister in power before the general election is given the first chance to create a government. This means that even if the Conservative Party doesn’t win an overall majority, the party will be given the chance to form a government. They can do this by:

  • negotiating with another party or parties to build a coalition
  • trying to govern with a minority of Members of Parliament
  • resigning, usually after failing to negotiate a coalition, and recommend that the leader of the largest opposition party be invited to form a government. They may decide to form a coalition or govern as a minority government.

In the event of a majority government…

The main requirement to form a new government is to find a party which can command the confidence of the House of Commons. This is normally secured by appointing the leader of the party with an overall majority of seats in the Commons. The Queen will ask him or her whether he or she will form a government.

The Prime Minister will then select his or her cabinet members. The House of Commons and the House of Lords sit for a few days before the State Opening of Parliament, the formal start of a parliamentary session. This is marked by a Queen’s Speech during which the monarch sets out the Government’s agenda for the coming session. During this time, the re-election, or election, of a Speaker of the House of Commons takes place. MPs and Lords take the oath or affirmation.

After the State Opening members of both Houses debate the content of the Queen’s Speech, usually for up to five days. The House of Commons then votes of the Queen’s Speech. 

What could happen if the Conservative Party loses?

If the Conservative Party loses this election Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal will likely be ditched. Each Conservative candidate has pledged their support for the deal so without needing to rely on the support of cross-party MPs, the party must win a majority to ensure the smoother passing of the agreement. 

The other possibility which could complicate the situation in Parliament is that of Conservative leader, Boris Johnson, losing his seat, Uxbridge. The Conservative majority in the constituency is only 10.8% of the vote share and the Labour Party is pushing heavily to unseat Johnson.

No incumbent prime minister has ever lost his or her seat at a general election. The Conservative Party constitution says that the leader of the party “shall be drawn from those elected to Parliament.” Despite this, Boris Johnson does not technically need to be an MP in order to be Prime Minister as the Prime Minister is an appointment of the Queen. However, should Boris Johnson lose his seat, it would be expected of him to resign and there would be a Conservative leadership competition soon after. 

What could happen if Labour loses?

If Labour were to lose this election it is likely there would be a serious shift of power within the party. John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor has himself said he would resign as a result of defeat and he feels that current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would also leave. Jeremy Corbyn himself has declined to comment on whether he would resign or not.

Who would form a coalition with who?

The Brexit Party’s main focus is to deliver Brexit and as such, it is possible that they may enter into a coalition with any pro-Brexit party who could give them a good deal or a Clean Break Brexit in Parliament.  

The Conservative Party has been quite quiet on the possibility of entering into any coalitions. However, they did enter into a coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2010. When the party lost its majority in 2017, it entered into a confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party.

Given that the DUP has voiced its disapproval of Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement, should Johnson need to seek the DUP’s confidence while still persuing his deal, a coalition or confidence and supply agreement seems unlikely. 

The Green Party has remained relatively quiet on its plans for any coalitions, however, with only one safe seat it is unlikely the party will have the numbers to be a major stakeholder in any coalition. 

The Labour Party has ruled out a Liberal Democrat-Labour coalition and the SNP has refused to enter into a formal coalition with Labour.

The Liberal Democrats have ruled out any coalitions. However, in the past, the party has formed coalitions with both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has said that he would work with the Labour Party on a “case by case basis” but criticised Corbyn’s repeated refusal to “say whether he is, even in principle, in favour of remaining in the European Union.”

The SNP has said it is open to forming a “progressive alliance” with other parties but has ruled out doing a deal with the Conservatives or entering into a coalition with Labour. 

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