What does a hung parliament mean for the UK?

9th Jun.
BTP Advisers

Theresa May called an election to secure her mandate as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. However, rather than cementing an overall majority, the UK is now left with a Hung Parliament. Here is our guide for what could happen next.

3 Mins (626 Words)

Conservatives form a New Minority Government with Theresa May as PMThe Queen has a constitutional duty to summon the leader that is most likely to command a majority in parliament, which in this case looks as though it is the Conservative party. Theresa May will have two weeks to present a new Queen’s Speech outlining the government’s legislative agenda, which will be debated in Parliament. This debate and vote on the Queen’s Speech will demonstrate whether she can command a majority of MPs. However, if the Queen’s Speech is defeated, Theresa May would have to resign as Prime Minister.

Conservatives reach a parliamentary deal with the Democratic UnionistsThe right-wing DUP from Northern Ireland now have 10 seats and are likely to agree to support a minority Conservative government, though neither party are likely to want a formal coalition. This would give the Conservatives a working majority of 13-15 seats in the House of Commons. Coalition negotiations can sometimes take weeks. However, given the history of the two parties working with each other, a deal is likely to be reached before the end of the weekend. But, this will not guarantee that the UK has a “strong and stable” position for the Brexit negotiations given likely tensions between the hardline pro-Brexit DUP and more moderate Conservative MPs.

Theresa May stands down as Party Leader but the Conservatives continue in GovernmentIn this scenario, Theresa May will stay in charge as Prime Minister until a new leader is chosen by the Conservative party. It is unlikely that this will happen in the short-term. However, given that May’s authority has now been severely damaged she is likely to stand down before the next election and this could happen as early as the Autumn this year. Even if there is a new Prime Minister, there would not need to be a new Queen’s Speech. If this were to happen, it is highly likely that a new Prime Minister would face a Confidence Vote, in order to win the approval of MPs – this could be called either by the government or the opposition.

Labour forms a minority or coalition GovernmentGiven that the Tories are so close to having a majority of seats on their own, and have 50 more seats than Labour, they will be asked to try and form a Government first. Jeremy Corbyn would only be given the chance to form a government if the Conservatives lose the vote on their Queen’s Speech. Like the Conservatives, a new Labour Government would have to win a vote on its Queen’s Speech. Given that the Tories and the DUP between them have a majority of seats, Labour could only win a vote if the DUP switched to them or abstained – this is highly unlikely given Jeremy Corbyn’s long-standing support for a United Ireland. If Labour lost the vote on its Queen’s Speech this would trigger another early election as there would be no other viable candidates to lead a new Government.

WILL THERE BE ANOTHER GENERAL ELECTION?Another general election taking place within the next 18 months is not out of the question, however it is not as simple as some may suggest. This is because Britain now has five-year Fixed Term Parliaments. Therefore, Parliament can now only be dissolved under two circumstances:

  1. If neither the Conservatives nor the Labour Party were able to win majority support for their agendas in the House of Commons
  1. That two-thirds of MPs vote for an early election – while Labour supported Theresa May’s motion to dissolve the last Parliament in April, they are unlikely to do so now given that if a Conservative led government were to fall Jeremy Corbyn would seek to be appointed as the new Prime Minister without a General Election.


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