A new general election needs only 50% plus 1 of Commons, not two thirds many claiming

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There is a lot of confusion around at the moment about the possibility of a new general election, with many – including politicians who should know better – saying the two-thirds majority required makes an election highly unlikely and some pivoting on that to claim a new referendum would be easier to achieve.

However, those claims are not correct. Assuming, of course, that Theresa May continues to ignore the need of the country and continues clinging to power instead of calling an election, a new election could be called by a simple majority in the House of Commons: half of MPs present for a vote, plus one.

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA) does say that a motion to call a new election must be passed by two thirds of all the seats in Parliament – currently 650 – including vacant seats and Sinn Fein-held seats whose MPs do not sit in the House. A high bar indeed.

However, that is not the only option the FTPA includes.

Governments can also be brought down – and Parliaments ended – by a loss in a ‘confidence vote’, that is on one of the central matters governments must pass to govern, such as a Queen’s Speech, or by the government’s failure to win a specifically-proposed vote of no confidence:

(3) An early parliamentary general election is also to take place if—

(a) the House of Commons passes a motion in the form set out in subsection (4), and

(b) the period of 14 days after the day on which that motion is passed ends without the House passing a motion in the form set out in subsection (5).

(4) The form of motion for the purposes of subsection (3)(a) is—

That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.

In simple terms, if a motion of no confidence in the government is tabled and the government loses, then Parliament has fourteen days in which to pass a new motion of confidence in the government – or there is a new general election.

The fourteen days are to allow the Opposition the opportunity to form a new government that the Commons will support – and if that does not happen, a new general election must follow.

But the most crucial factor in this option is that it requires only a ‘simple majority’ – in other words, half plus one of those voting and only those voting, not half of the number of all seats. The ‘two thirds’ requirement only applies to an ordinary motion to call a new election – such as Theresa May put to the Commons to call last year’s general election.

A new election is a simple majority away – and with Theresa May having lost the support of the DUP because of her decision to ignore them in the dismal ‘deal’ she has brought back from Brussels, there are no guarantees they will support her in such a vote of no confidence.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Many politicians are either ignorant of this fact – and are merely wrong – or are intentionally ignoring it because they would prefer a new Brexit referendum to a Corbyn-led Labour government.

Labour must call a vote of no confidence without delay.

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27 responses to “A new general election needs only 50% plus 1 of Commons, not two thirds many claiming

  1. This news is a really significant game changer but given the Labour Party’s preference for a GE it is puzzling why they haven’t been highlighting this themselves.

    • Just thinking out loud but could it be that the leadership don’t want the powerlessness of a minority Labour government and the disgrace of having to bargain for conditional support as if we were Tories?

      At the same time the blame for Brexit/nobrexit and every other too-expensive-to-fix Tory disaster-in-waiting would be dishonestly heaped upon us by the relieved Tories, the MSM and the Blairites – who’d all redouble their efforts on every other lying AntiSocialist slur too.

      I’m conscious of the fact that the oppressed need help NOW – but how much help could we realistically give them in those circumstances?

      Maybe I’m unduly pessimistic or I’m misinterpreting the situation but I think we need an unassailable majority and two terms at least.

      • This might cheer you up a little.
        Have a listen to John McDonnell on Newsnight – “I can’t forgive the Tories”

      • Thanks for that Steve, I’d missed it.
        I remember reading in the 70’s(?) about Golda Meir living in a small bungalow where she welcomed visiting foreign dignitaries by making tea for them in her own kitchen while she was PM.
        Always respected that rejection of the pomp and privilege of high office that draws so many careerists to politics in the first place – the kind that constantly seeks plaudits for its “public service.”

        An MP taking pride in being no wealthier on leaving office than before being elected would have my respect.
        I’ve no idea if John McDonnell is such a man but choosing to live at home rather than at No.11 suggests he might be.

        Can anyone imagine the social climbing, money-grubbing Blairs choosing to live frugally in solidarity with their voters?

  2. “A new election is a simple majority away – and with Theresa May having lost the support of the DUP because of her decision to ignore them in the dismal ‘deal’ she has brought back from Brussels, there are no guarantees they will support her in such a vote of no confidence.”

    Crazy to think that the DUP will vote in favour of an explicit motion of no confidence in order to actively bring down the Tory government, given (1) Corbyn is their arch nemesis (2) they would instantly lose their leverage over UK government and ability to hold it to ransom.

    It’s never going to happen. Never.

    • You are absolutely right; no way the DUP will let an election take place.

    • I agree.
      Expecting the DUP to ‘do the right thing’ is a victory of optimism over reality.
      Voting against the government on minor matters, especially when such ‘treachery’is probably good for their constituents, is one thing. Helping Labour to power is a whole different ball game.
      It won’t happen.
      Luckily, the party leadership has twigged this.

    • The Labour Party Brexit package is a lot more attractive to the people of Northern Ireland (except the NI Farmers) than the Tories shambles of a deal. The DUP could come under pressure from their own supporters to accept a Labour deal. No borders and totally in line with the UK etc

  3. Momentum email just now said “Leaks have revealed” that “Tory HQ [is] on high alert for a snap GE as key marginal areas are offered free campaign managers”

    Not sure what to make of “offered free campaign managers” – are Tories in the habit of charging their candidates for support?

  4. Stan Keable was sacked by Hammersmith & Fulham Council for stating/mentioning an historical fact – ie that the Nazis collaborated with Zionist organisations (re the Havaara Agreement) – and he did so in a private discussion in a public place in his own time, not that it matters a jot WHERE he said it of course. I hadn’t thought to check his fundraiser on gofundme since I made a donation a few months back, but having just checked it again, I see that only £2,370 has been pledged of a £20,000 target during the past five months. He should never have been sacked in the first place of course and, as such, have to raise funds to fight his case, but my point is this:

    There are over 500,000 Labour Party members, and along with affiliated union members etc, I believe it’s not far short of 700,000, of which I have no doubt that WELL over half of them are Jeremy Corbyn supporters, and I can only assume that the vast majority of them would be more than happy to pledge a few quid to Stan’s cause, and I can only assume that the reason they haven’t is because they are not aware of his situation. And my main point is that we need a ‘network’ whereby we can reach members and relate such stories etc and, as such, give people like Stan the financial support they need to fight their cases. I have little doubt that In such a scenario the £20,000 target could easily have been reached within twenty-four hours! Just try and imagine how he must feel……… sacked from his job for mentioning a historical fact (during the course of a ‘private’ conversation), and has now, after five months, only managed to raise £2,730. We REALLY have to, and need to, sort this out!

    https://www.gofundme.com/ReinstateStanKeable

  5. ‘…At least in pre-Fixed Term Parliament Act era, may be the government will resign. Not in the current era, where you will need two-thirds of MPs to agree to dissolve parliament or government is defeated in a motion of no-confidence.’ (extract from my comment on 20/11/2018 at 6:53 pm on the article: NEW GENERAL ELECTION ‘ONE OF TWO OUTCOMES’ AS DUP VOTES WITH LABOUR ON BUDGET BILL)

    I should have added “by a simple majority” after the word “defeated” for clarification.

    Having made this adjustment, I agree entirely with Danslenoir above. It is also debatable whether even our Blairite faction will vote for the motion of no confidence, because they are so opposed to Corbyn becoming PM.

    • Exactly.

      Wishful thinking isn’t good. I was a bit dismayed to see ‘The Canary’ headlining its article with the suggestion that ‘the establishment’ had hidden the facts about a vote of ‘No Confidence’.

      Sorry – the facts were – and are- available to anyone able to do a bit of research and read. Certainly, opposition MPs should be up to speed.

  6. Here’s a list of the 89 (and counting) who have indicated that they will vote against TM’s so called Brexit deal

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/alexwickham/here-are-all-the-tory-mps-who-have-indicated-so-far-that

    As the numbers build it’s beginning to look a bit like the Tory equivalent of the Labour RW’s disastrous coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn. I’ll wager that unlike Jeremy (who triumphed) the outcome for Theresa won’t be a positive one.

    • Don’t start trusting tories.
      They’re the ones who said they’d get her out, and couldn’t raise 48 for a challenge.
      Tories lie. That’s what tories do. They lie.
      You say “put your money where your mouth is”, and the average tory goes all foetal on you.

      • Your points taken and acknowledged but to be fair the article does make it clear that some MPs will change their minds.
        “This is a rolling list — expect Tory whips to convince some of these names to vote with the government, and others to come out against the deal.”

        The thing that struck me is that on both occasions MPs in their respective parties have chosen to bypass their own party’s procedures in their attempts to oust their leader.

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