05 Jul 2024

General Election 2024: What happens next?

Following the election result, MHP’s Public Affairs team have put together a guide to the events that will follow.

Keir Starmer, General Election, Labour Party, Labour government, Labour majority
Tim Snowball

When will Keir Starmer be appointed Prime Minister?
Rishi Sunak arrived at Buckingham Palace at around 11am this morning to tender his resignation as prime minister to the King. Sir Keir Starmer will be invited to the Palace by the King shortly after and be invited to form a new government. He will then make his first speech as prime minister around 12:30pm.

When will the cabinet be appointed?
All Cabinet positions are expected to be in place by 8pm this evening.

When will new ministers be appointed?
Starmer is expected to spend most of the weekend appointing his new government in full – with most if not all ministerial positions filled by Monday. It is likely that appointments will be announced in waves over the weekend. England’s Euro 2024 quarter-final against Switzerland at 5pm tomorrow is the only timeslot we understand when there will be radio silence from Number 10.

When will parliament return?
New MPs will be sworn in from Tuesday 9th July, followed by maiden speeches for new and returning MPs over the course of the coming month.

How long will parliament sit for?
It is reported that MPs will sit until summer recess on 31st July (just over three weeks), though this has not been confirmed. Usually MPs would leave Westminster a week earlier, but the new government is keen not to waste too much of its honeymoon period on holiday.
It is expected that Parliament will return from summer recess on 2nd September but given the party conference season, this too will be a short parliamentary window.

How soon can I contact MPs?
Returning MPs should be able to get their offices up and running in the next fortnight. However there are hundreds of new MPs joining parliament, many of whom have no experience in Westminster. It could take days if not weeks before new MPs are ready to be engaged with, as they go through the practical steps of being allocated an office; getting an email address set up; and hiring staffers to manage their correspondence. There is therefore a balance to be struck, engage early and you may get lost in the deluge, but the new MP might still be managing their inbox themselves. Wait a bit for fuller attention, but then risk the new staffer filter!

Will there be a King’s Speech?
Yes – it is expected on 17th July.
This will be the first opportunity for the new government to set out its legislative agenda in full, building on its previous election campaign commitments.

Will there be a budget this year?
Rachel Reeves has said she would like to give the Office for Budget Responsibility a full 10 weeks to complete its forecast ahead of a Budget.
This would make 11th September the earliest likely date, but a Budget could still come later in the autumn.

When will Select Committees be formed?
House of Commons Select Committees will announce members by 24th July, with Chairs allocated by party (according to their strength in the Commons) and elected in the weeks before.

When will All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) be formed?
We expected APPGs to take slightly longer to form that Select Committees. The first APPGs should be set up by summer recess, with a further wave being formed in the September sitting of parliament.

What does the size of Starmer’s majority mean?
Starmer’s landslide majority means that Labour should be able to pass legislation effectively. This may embolden their ambition for radical reform. In practical terms there is very little difference for the government between the 80 seat majority that Boris Johnson secured in 2019 and the majority that Labour won last night. It is really only small majorities – or event minority governments – where parties can be held to ransom by relatively small groups of rebels, which impact a government’s ability to legislate. More interesting will be the House of Lords, where Labour has nothing like a majority…

How will Labour manage a minority in the House of Lords?
Although the House of Lords is not as important as the Commons, its role as a revising chamber means it can delay legislation by amending and delaying for up to one year. At the moment, Labour has just 172 members, compared to the Conservatives 274, out of a total of 738. It is likely now that Labour will appoint dozens of peers to address this imbalance, before it opts for reform later in its parliamentary term. These will take the form of ‘Top-Up’ appointments specifically designed to help balance the party numbers in the Lords.

In practice, the Lib Dems’ 79 Peers may prove useful allies in the Lords, particularly in the short term. The two parties generally have close working relations, forged in opposition to the Conservatives. But this reliance will give the Lib Dems power to amend legislation as it passes through the House.

What happens next for the Conservatives?
Rishi Sunak announced he will step down as Tory leader following his party’s general election defeat once former arrangements for a successor have taken place  which will trigger a party leadership contest.

Who are the front runners for the Conservative leadership?
No contenders have announced their intention to stand, but ones to watch include Tom Tugendhat and James Cleverly from the more liberal side of the party, as well as Suella Braverman, Priti Patel and Kemi Badenoch on the right. It is not implausible that Jeremy Hunt, who clung onto his Surrey seat this morning, could announce a bid too. Bad news for both Penny Mordaunt and Grant Shapps’ leadership ambitions, however – both lost their seats last night.

How influential are the Liberal Democrats?
The Liberal Democrats are now the third-largest party in the House of Commons for the first time since 2015. Third party status means that Liberal Democrats will play a more prominent role in parliament, chairing a number of Select Committees and securing the weekly questions after the Leader of the Opposition at PMQs. The Liberal Democrats will secure an increased share of Short/Cranborne Money, public funds that helps opposition parties to recruit staff and maintain party offices at Westminster. In 2023-24, the SNP (third largest party at the time) received £1.3 million, and the Liberal Democrats could receive a similar amount after their gains at this election.

Are party conferences going ahead as usual?
Yes, all UK-wide party conferences will be going ahead this autumn. Core dates include:

  • Liberal Democrat conference, Saturday 14th – Tuesday 17th September in Brighton
  • Labour conference, Sunday 22nd – Wednesday 25th September in Liverpool
  • Conservative conference, Sunday 29th September – Wednesday 2nd October in Birmingham

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