Can Labour call a general election?

Keir Starmer discusses reaching voters after Johnson resignation

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Boris Johnson may have announced his intention to resign from being Prime Minister, but will stay on in his role until a new leader is selected by the Conservative party. But Labour has still attempted to oust the outgoing PM before then, by attempting to trigger a no confidence vote in Mr Johnson this week.

Can Labour force a general election?

Labour cannot call a general election in the same way the Government can, but they can attempt to force it.

Labour can call a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons, which would usually trigger a series of events under parliamentary procedure.

Labour did exactly that this week, with motion had been tabled on Tuesday, and the vote was expected to take place on Wednesday.

Their motion read: “This House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government while the Rt Hon Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip remains Prime Minister.”

However, despite Sir Keir’s demands for a vote on Mr Johnson’s remaining leadership, this has not been approved by the Government.

A Number 10 spokesperson said Sir Keir has chosen to “play politics” and a vote would not be necessary.

They said: “As the Prime Minister has already resigned and a leadership process is underway we do not feel this is a valuable use of parliamentary time.”

In response, Labour spokesperson said: “This clapped-out Government is running scared and refusing to allow time to debate Labour’s vote of no-confidence motion. This is totally unprecedented.

“Yet again the Tories are changing the rules to protect their own dodgy mates.

“All the Tory leadership candidates should denounce this flagrant abuse of power to protect a discredited prime minister.”

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What is a no confidence vote?

It’s not the same as the vote Mr Johnson faced in June, which was done by his own party to remove him as Conservative leader.

Instead, this type of no confidence vote can force the entire House to vote on whether they still have faith in the Prime Minister or Government to continue.

It would need a simple majority to pass, and would see Mr Johnson out Number 10 before the provisional date of September 5 for the new leader to take over.

If the Prime Minister wins the no-confidence motion, the Government will carry on with business as usual.

This would have been highly likely even in light of the revolt by MPs against Mr Johnson that led to his departure announcement last week, as it could have triggered a general election.

If the Prime Minister loses however, convention says they would step down and give way to the opposition to form a Government – but if this fails, a general election would be called.

The last successful no confidence vote was held in 1979, leading to the resignation of James Callaghan and paving the way for Margaret Thatcher’s government.

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