Rishi Sunak’s party conference claim that Britain “does not want a general election” has been tested by a poll that shows 73 per cent of voters do.
Figures from More in Common released on Tuesday show that nearly three-quarters of respondents want the vote before May, when it is likely to happen.
The statistics were released after Labour won two Conservative seats, in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth, which had previously safe majorities.
A petition calling for a general election now has 268,317 signatures at the time of writing, and the matter has been rebuffed by the government.
A statement in response said: “Britain faces long-term challenges that need us to put the national interest first. Rishi Sunak and this government are doing just that and it would be wrong to call an early general election now.”
Will a general election happen soon?
Mr Sunak said at the Conservative Party Conference that the public "does not want an immediate general election". However, he may be forced to eat his words.
The petition to call an immediate general election was backed by TV presenter Carol Vorderman.
Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate.
However, on October 18, the Government responded: "Britain faces long-term challenges that need us to put the national interest first. Rishi Sunak and this Government are doing just that and it would be wrong to call an early general election now."
They added: "The Government is putting national interest over self-interest, and is doing what is right, not what is easy."
When is the next UK general election?
The maximum term for Parliament is five years. As the current Parliament first met on December 17, 2019, it will be automatically dissolved on December 17, 2024.
Polling day would therefore take place 25 days later, placing the next general election in January 2025. However, King Charles could dissolve Parliament at any time before this date at the request of the prime minister.
When was the last general election?
The last general election was on December 12, 2019. The Conservative Party won a large majority. The prime minister at the time, Boris Johnson, called the election after months of parliamentary deadlock that delayed Brexit.
There was another general election in 2017, called by then-prime minister Theresa May, in the hope of strengthening her hand in the Brexit negotiations.
When can a general election be held?
On March 24, 2022, the Government repealed the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, which had created five-year periods between elections and allowed earlier elections only in specific circumstances. The UK thus reverted to the prior situation, when the prime minister can ask the King to dissolve Parliament so a general election can be held.
When the act was repealed, minister for the cabinet office Michael Ellis said: “The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was not fit for purpose, causing constitutional chaos in 2019 and delaying the Government acting on people’s priorities.
“At critical moments, we must trust the British public’s good judgement. Elections give the public a voice, and it’s right that we return to a tried-and-tested system that allows them to take place when needed.”
Why are elections held on a Thursday?
Every general election since 1931 has been held on a Thursday.
It was suggested that this would encourage more people to vote. It has been thought that elections on a Friday would have had lower turnouts given people’s desire to begin their weekends.
Saturday and Sunday were believed to have been ruled out given the need to pay extra for polling staff (typically local council employees) to work at the weekend.