New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
29 October 2019

In full: Boris Johnson’s early election bill

The legislation that will trigger Britain's first December election since 1923 is just 15 lines long.

By Patrick Maguire

Boris Johnson’s early election legislation isn’t the single line threatened but at only 15 in length, it does not exceed a page. 

Conservative MPs were sent the bill that if passed will facilitate the United Kingdom’s first December election since 1923 by government whips this morning. 

It overrides the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, which specifies that the next election must be held on 5 May 2022 unless two-thirds of MPs vote for an earlier poll. The Prime Minister has failed three times to assemble the necessary supermajority, most recently last night.

The bill’s deliberately narrow scope and tight drafting as good as guarantees a procedural row over whether it can be amended, and to what effect.

While changing the date from 12 December to 11 December or 9 December the latter of which is favoured by the Liberal Democrats and SNP will be relatively straightforward, the legislation has been drawn up in such a way as to preclude more ambitious changes, such as allowing 16- and 17-year-olds and EU nationals to vote.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

While John Bercow has form for allowing amendments to legislation that would appear to fall outside its scope — in this case, the timing of the election — Lindsay Hoyle, his deputy, will adjudicate on amendments at committee stage. He will almost certainly rule any seeking to change the franchise out of order.

The full text of the legislation, shared with the New Statesman by a Conservative source, is below. 

1 Early parliamentary general election

(1) An early parliamentary general election is to take place on 12 December 2019 in consequence of the passing of this Act.

(2) That day is to be treated as a polling day appointed under section 2(7) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

(3) This early parliamentary general election is to be treated as taking place in accordance with section 2 of that Act for the purposes of—

(a) section 96A(9) of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (benefit cap: review), and

(b) section 23(8) of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (duty on Secretary of State to publish reports on economic impact on business activities of regulatory provisions).

2 Commencement and short title

(1) This Act comes into force on the day it is passed.

(2) This Act may be cited as the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019.

Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors