Not another election?
The previous general election held in June 2017 returned a Conservative minority government, forcing the then Prime Minister, Theresa May, into an electoral pact with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This pact allowed the Conservative party to govern but left them in a much weaker position within the UK’s House of Commons. May’s Brexit strategy was severely compromised as a result, with MPs rejecting her Brexit deal three times in early 2019, forcing her to delay the Brexit, and to resign as Prime Minister. The successor to May, Boris Johnson, managed to get preliminary approval for his deal, but not for his preferred timeline. As a result, Brexit was delayed once again, to January 31, 2020, giving the UK a chance to break the current deadlock through an election.
326 to win
The 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) that sit in the UK’s House of Commons represent 650 electoral areas called constituencies. Voters in the UK elect an MP for their constituency who will sit in parliament to stand for both local and national interests. Almost all MPs belong to political parties, the largest of which are center-right Conservative Party and the center-left Labour Party. If one single party can win 326 or more seats, it will be able to form a government by virtue of having a simple majority in the House of Commons. The leader of the party who wins the most MPs usually goes on to become the Prime Minister, although these leaders must also win the constituency they represent, just like any other MP.
The main issues
Brexit has dominated the British political landscape since 2016 and was probably the main issue for many voters when deciding who to vote for. The Conservative Party aimed to leave the EU with Boris Johnson’s deal, while the Labour Party intended to strike a different deal, and to put that to a public vote. Other parties such as the Liberal Democrats and SNP sought to remain in the EU, while the Brexit Party simply wanted to leave the EU without a deal. Both Labour and the Conservative announced bold public spending plans in areas such as healthcare and the police force after almost a decade of austerity.