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General election: Everything you need to know

BayRadio | November 7, 2019

Two-and-a-half years since the last general election, British voters will be heading back to the polls.

Voters will cast their ballots on 12 December after MPs supported a pre-Christmas election.

Given the repeated delays to Britain’s departure from the European Union, Brexit is likely to dominate the main political parties’ campaigns.

Sky News tells you everything you need to know ahead of polling day.

Why has an election been called?

Several reasons. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping to break the Brexit stalemate.

Plus, with a further three-month Brexit extension granted, opposition politicians opposed to a no-deal departure felt they had achieved their aim, and decided to back a national poll.

In addition, Mr Johnson does not have a majority in parliament and his government would have struggled to pursue its agenda.

‘Not another one:’ When was the last election?

Theresa May’s gamble failed to pay off when she called the last election on 18 April 2017, with voting taking place a couple of months later on 8 June.

She pursued an election nearly three years earlier than it was due under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, hoping to “strengthen her hand” in Brexit negotiations.

Instead, the Conservative Party lost its majority.

The Tories held on to power by forming a minority government with a confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

How will the election work?

Political parties and independent MPs have been quietly campaigning for a while. They will now up the ante and begin preparing their manifestos for publication.

Britons do not vote for a prime minister directly, but instead choose an MP to represent them in their local constituency.

The party that has the most MPs once the votes are counted will form a government, with the leader of that party becoming prime minister.

There are 650 constituencies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that make up the UK parliament.

The first-past-the-post electoral system applies in each constituency, where the candidate who gets the most votes wins.

Who is standing to be my MP?

The UK parliament website has a full list of the MPs representing each constituency.

Conservative leader Boris Johnson controversially sacked 21 MPs who rebelled against the government in September by backing a bid to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

They included veteran MP Ken Clarke, the former chancellor Philip Hammond, and Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nicholas Soames.

Ten of them, including Sir Nicholas, have now been readmitted to the Tories’ parliamentary party.

There are a number of MPs from all parties who have said they will not seek re-election.

Some of the seven MPs who have joined the Liberal Democrats from other parties will stand in new constituencies, while others will contest their existing seats.

How will people vote?

YouGov’s latest voting intention figures from 21 October showed the Conservatives polling at 37%.

The polling company asked people who they would vote for if “a general election was held tomorrow”.

Labour came in at 22%, while the Remain-supporting Liberal Democrats came in at 19%.

The Brexit Party were at 11%, the Greens at 7%, the SNP at 3%, Plaid Cymru at 1% and “other” at 1%.

Where do the parties stand on Brexit?

Conservative leader Boris Johnson had promised to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October “do or die”, but that is no longer on the cards.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wants a second EU referendum to give voters the choice between a “sensible” Brexit deal, negotiated within the first three months of a Labour government, and the option of staying in the EU.

He has not yet said how, or if, he will campaign in such a second EU referendum.

The Liberal Democrats say that if they win a majority at the election, they will revoke the Article 50 notification and therefore unilaterally cancel Brexit.

If they do not win a majority, they will continue to campaign for a second EU referendum in the hope that the UK backs Remain.

The Green Party and Plaid Cymru also both support the idea of a second EU referendum to give people another say on Brexit.

The Brexit Party wants to leave the EU with a “clean break”, otherwise known as a no-deal Brexit.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) wants Scotland to be a fully independent country and a member of the EU.

What happens if no party wins a majority?

If no party secures a majority of seats in the House of Commons, there would be a hung parliament.

The party that wins the most seats can then either try to form a coalition government with one or more other parties, or form a minority government – as Mrs May did with the support of the DUP in 2017.

Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson has ruled out forming a coalition with Labour.

Labour has played down the prospect of forming a coalition with the SNP in a hung parliament.

How do I vote in the 2019 election?

Voters have to be 18 or over and registered to vote.

People only need to register once and do not need to do it for every election.

However, voters must register again if they have changed their address, name or nationality.

The most popular way for people to vote is by visiting a polling station in their local constituency.

People can also apply for a postal vote if they are away from home, or a proxy vote if they need someone to vote on their behalf.

After all that… when do we find out the result?

An exit poll will give us an early indication of what has happened when voting ends at 10pm on Thursday 12 December.

From here, Sky News will have minute-by-minute coverage on TV and mobile as seats are declared throughout the early hours of Friday 13 December.

Written by BayRadio

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