Tactical voting in the 2019 general election

It’s possible you’ve seen discussions on social media about tactical voting, and websites promoting insight into how best to vote to remove the Conservatives from government.

Although on the surface very helpful, like with everything it is important to question the provenance of the website, and consider whether the data its offering is reliable, otherwise you might end up with an undesirable result ─ and a wasted vote!

This article will not be linking to tactical voting websites. It will instead break down what the term means, and offer suggestions on how you can find the information to vote tactically, should you choose to.

What is tactical voting?

Tactical voting is, as the name suggests, voting in a tactical manner to try and bring about a specific outcome. Now, that might just sound like voting ─ after all, you’re voting for your preference ─ but tactical voting here means possibly not voting for your first preference in an attempt to stop your last choice getting in.

But, let’s cut the hypotheticals. When people talk of tactical voting in this general election, they are talking about voting in a manner that deprives the Conservatives of a majority.

People in traditionally Conservative constituencies who tactically vote will be voting for the candidate that has the best chance of unseating the incumbent, rather than necessarily their first choice candidate. This might mean that a Labour supporter votes for a Liberal Democrat candidate if they are seen as the most likely non-Conservative candidate for the seat, or vice-versa.

Why would someone tactically vote?

Generally, people tend not to vote tactically, but increasingly Brexit has been the backdrop of all voting opportunities, and people view Brexit as a more pressing issue than traditional party allegiances.

Those people perceive this general election as the last chance to prevent Brexit. The Conservatives (and the Brexit Party) are both running on a campaign of finishing Brexit and pulling us out of the EU, and people believe that voting to curtail the Conservative majority will remove that option.

Others simply believe that stopping the Conservatives getting back in for another five years, after the nine they have already have, is so important they are willing to swallow voting for another candidate.

In simple terms, people are suggesting a tactical vote in this election because they don’t like the Conservative government, and want them gone.

Should I tactically vote?

That depends. We won’t tell you who to vote for, but there are a number of questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Do you want a Conservative government? If yes, then your tactical vote is to just vote Conservative.

  2. Do you want Brexit to happen? If yes, then your tactical vote is to vote for Conservatives, or the Brexit Party where Conservative’s aren’t running

If you answered no to one or both of the statements above, then tactical voting might be of interest to you. However, you will further need to ask yourself:

  1. Am I able to vote for a candidate I don’t fully support, to prevent a candidate getting in I definitely don’t support?

If the answer is yes, then you should probably consider voting tactically. This is doubly the case if having a final say on Brexit is your primary concern, as all other parties have stated support for a second referendum.

How do I tactically vote?

As I previously said, there are websites floating around that will allegedly tell you who the best candidate is to vote for to stop a Conservative majority forming. Some are slightly dubious, and you have to consider that they may have been set up to give you false information to lead to a ‘wasted’ vote.

The most sensible option is to look at voting trends in your constituency and, if it is currently held by the Conservatives, see which party came second in prior elections. You may notice that there is a party repeatedly coming up in second place, and if so, you should vote for that candidate.

You can find historic general election results online, or the BBC let you see the results of the last two elections on their website.

As with most things political, nothing is a certainty, and you voting for a consistent runner-up isn’t a guarantee to change the result. Some areas are ‘safe seats’ for political parties, be it Labour or Conservative, and expecting that to change is optimistic. Still every vote for an alternative party is one less for the incumbent, so don’t let that deter you.

If, however, a seat has consistently not been Conservative, you are probably best served to vote for the incumbent party.

What if I’m a student?

Then congratulations, you get the added complexity of deciding where to vote in addition of who to vote for.

Presuming you registered to vote at both your home and term-time address, you are eligible to vote at either. You will want to research where your vote can do the most good. One of your addresses might be in a ‘swing’ seat, which means it isn’t consistently won by a particular party, and the majority held is usually only in the low thousands,

If, for instance, your term-time address is in a ‘swing’ constituency, but the MP of your home constituency has a large majority, your vote is likely to have more impact at your term address, and you might want to stay at uni to vote there.

Once you’ve made the decision of where to vote, and you want to tactically vote to remove (or keep out) the Conservatives, you can then proceed to assess the best candidate to give your vote too.

Final thoughts

This is not an article saying that you should tactically vote, and we would never presume to tell you who to vote for.

Voting is an incredibly personal thing, and who you vote for has to be up to you. Tactical voting is always a risky decision to make, as there is no guarantee it works. Equally, if you decide to vote for someone who you can’t personally stand but hate less than someone else, if they win you are still represented by that person for five years. However, depending on your priorities, for example stopping Brexit or removing a Conservative government, that might be a pill you can swallow.

I will encourage you though to think about everything written above, and also have a look at the manifesto breakdowns we have created. In them, we pull out every policy the main national parties have announced that relate to Brexit, young people, education, and culture.

If voting by post, please remember that your ballot has to reach the Electoral Office by 10pm on 12 December, which is the day of the election, so send it off before then.

Finally, always be mindful of where you’re reading news, and try where possible to check sources.

GE2019: Labour Party manifesto breakdown

We pull out the key policies from the Labour Party manifesto, examining what they have to say on education, culture, young people and Brexit.

We have pulled out policies on Brexit, education, culture and young people and detailed them below, along with the page numbers so you can check them for yourself and read additional context.

These are just a few of many policies that Labour are putting forward, and we encourage you to read the full manifesto to get a complete picture of what they are offering. You should also read the manifestos of the other parties.

If you haven’t already, please register to vote. The deadline to do so is 11:59pm on 26 November (17:00 if you’re registering for a postal vote). If you are looking for an explainer on the process of voting, we have a detailed guide here.

This article is purely informative, and simply breaks down what the manifesto says. 

There will be no opinion provided.


Labour Party manifesto: It’s time for real change

Brexit

  • Rule out a no-deal Brexit and stop the no-deal preparations (p.89)
  • In three months they will secure a new Brexit deal that includes: a UK-wide customs union, close alignment with the single market, dynamic alignment on worker and consumer rights and environmental protection, continued participation in EU agencies and funding programmes, clear commitments on security arrangements (p.90)
  • Provide legal protection for citizens’ rights and honour the Good Friday Agreement (p.90)
  • Present their deal, along with an option to remain, in a legally binding referendum within six months of government (p.90)
  • Scrap current Brexit legislation and replace it with new legislation that ensures support for farmers, the fishing industry, and the environment (p.91)
  • If the UK decides to stay in the EU, Labour will push for reform, and focus on tackling the Climate Emergency, tax evasion and ending austerity and inequality (pp.91-92)

Education

Early years

  • Reverse cuts to Sure Start, and create Sure Start Plus, with the aim to provide a universal service for all communities that is focused on the under-2s (p.38)
  • Increase paid maternity leave to 12 months (p.38)
  • Within 5 years have all 2,3 and 4-year-olds be entitled to 30 hours of preschool education, and make additional hours available at subsidised rates based on income
  • Extend childcare provision for 1-year-olds to ensure that childcare provisions accommodate working patterns of parents (p.38)
  • Transition to a qualified, graduate-led workforce, while allowing current early year workers to train on the job to gain those qualifications (p.38)
  • Increase funding, and give the funding directly to providers (p.38)
  • Recruit 15,000 additional early years staff including SEN co-ordinators and introduce a national pay scale (p.38)
  • Long-term funding to nursery schools (p.38)

Schools

  • Fix schools that have fallen into disrepair (p.38)
  • Ensure that pupils are taught be a qualified teacher (p.39)
  • Ensure every school is open for a full five days a week, and maximum class sizes of 30 for all primary school children (p.39)
  • Fund more non-contact time for teachers to prepare and plan (p.39)
  • Provide the necessary funding for children with SEN and disabilities (p.39)
  • Scrap SATs and baseline assessments, and instead focus assessments on supporting pupil progress (p.39)
  • Introduce an annual £160 million ‘Arts Pupil Premium’ to fund arts education for every primary school children (p.39, p.54)
  • Ensure the curriculum covers subjects such as black history, the Holocaust, the Climate and the environmental emergency (p.39)
  • Bring free schools and academies back under the control of local communities (p.39)
  • Transfer budgets and day-to-day decisions back to schools, with accountable governing bodies of elected representatives (p.39)
  • Move the responsibility of education delivery and support for young people – including admissions, school places and opening new schools – to local authorities (p.39)
  • Oversight and coordination will be carried out by the regional offices of the National Education Service (p.40)
  • All schools will be subject to a common rulebook, set out in legislation (p.40)
  • Replace OFSTED and transfer responsibility for inspections to a new body, focused on school improvement (p.40)
  • New teacher supply service to curtain funds going to private supply teacher agencies (p.40)
  • End off-rolling, by making schools accountable for the outcomes of pupils on their roll, preventing schools letting pupils drop out of the system
  • Regulate all education providers and reform alternative provision (p.40)
  • ‘Poverty-proof’ schools with free school meals for primary school children, encouraging breakfast clubs and tackling the cost of school uniforms (p.40)
  • Close tax loopholes used by private schools, and look to integrate private schools into a comprehensive education system (p.40)
  • Mandatory LGBT+ inclusive relationships and sex education (p.69)

Further and higher education

  • Reintroduce Education Maintenance Allowance (p.41)
  • Everyone will get free lifelong entitlement to training up to Level 3, as well as six years training at Levels 4-6, with maintenance grants for disadvantaged learners (p.41)
  • Additional entitlements for workers in industries significantly affected by industrial transition (p.41)
  • Give employers a role in co-designing and co-producing qualifications to ensure the skill needs are being met (p.41)
  • Restore funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and expand the Union Learning Fund to give workers the right to accrue paid time off for education and training (p.41)
  • Reform existing careers advice to cover the entire National Education Service (p.41)
  • and privatisation of further and adult education, incorporating it into a single national system of regulation (p.41)
  • Abolish tuition fees, and bring back maintenance grants (p.41)
  • Ensure all public higher education institutes have adequate funding for teaching and research (p.41)
  • Reverse the decline of part-time learning (p.41)
  • End the casualisation of staff (p.41)
  • Transform the Office for Students from market regulator to a body of the National Education Service that operates in the public interest (p.41)
  • Introduce post-qualification admissions in higher education, and ensure contextual admissions are used across the system (p.41)

Culture

  • Bring Royal Mail back into public ownership, stop Crown Post Offices closures, and create a publicly owned Post Bank to ensure that all communities have access to easy, face-to-face banking (p.50)
  • Business Development Agency will be based in the Post Bank offering support and advice on launching, managing and growing a business (p.50)
  • Pubs will be listed as an Asset of Community Value so  communities have the first chance to buy pubs at risk of closure (p.50)
  • Reintroduction of library standards, and update all libraries to offer Wi-Fi and computers (p.50)
  • Free full-fibre broadband by 2030, paid for through the taxation of multinationals including tech giants (p.53)
  • Invest in towns and communities with a £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund to transform libraries, museums and galleries across the country (p.54)
  • Make the distribution of National Lottery funds more transparent (p.54)
  • Maintain free entry to museums (p.54)
  • Building on the success of the UK City of Culture, introduce a Town of Culture competition (p.54)
  • Ensure creative jobs are accessible for everyone, and promote diversity in the industry (p.54)
  • Review the copyright framework to ensure fair remuneration for artists and content creators (p.54)
  • Protect free TV licences for over-75s (p.54)
  • Address the findings of the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry (p.54)
  • Ensure Ofcom is able to oversee a plurality of media ownership and put in place clearer rules on who is fit and proper to own TV and radio stations (p.54)
  • Establish an inquiry into ‘fake news’ and on a legal right of public interest defence for journalists (p.55)
  • Examine the state of football, including governance and regulation, funding, and its ownership rules (p.55). Additionally, they will legislate for accredited football supporters’ trusts to be able to appoint and remove at least two club directors and purchase shares when clubs change hands (p.55). There will also be safe standing in stadiums, and ensure that a proportion of the Premier League’s television rights income is spent on grassroots football facilities (p.55)
  • ICC Cricket World Cup to be broadcast free-to-air (p.55)
  • Ratify the Istanbul convention and the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment at Work (p.65)

Young people

  • Build a properly funded and professionally staffed National Youth Service, and guarantee that every young person has access to local youth work (p.51)
  • Invest in a youth justice system where schools, local authorities, health authorities and youth services work together to divert young people away from pathways towards crime (p.43)
  • A comprehensive review of the care system, including considering a central register of foster parents and regulation of semi-supported housing (p.51)
  • Rebuild early intervention services and replace the Troubled Families programme with a Stronger Families programme to reduce the risk of children going into care (p.51)
  • Protect and build on Staying Put for over-18s in care and the Adoption Support Fund (p.51)
  • Protect children online by imposing fines on companies that fail to address online abuse (pp.53-54)
  • £845 million to be spent on children and adolescent mental health services (p.34)
  • Establish a network of open-access mental health hubs to enable more children to access mental health, and recruit almost 3,500 qualified counsellors for schools (p.34)
  • Extend the sugar tax to milk drinks, ban fast-food restaurants near schools and enforce stricter rules around advertising of junk food and levels of salt in food (p.34)
  • Tackle homelessness, and specifically address the needs of LGBT+ young people who make up a disproportionate number of currently homeless people (p.69)
  • 150,000 council and social homes, with 100,000 of these being built by councils for social rent (p.78) and redefine affordable housing to be tied to local incomes (p.78)
  • Help to Buy will be reformed to focus on first-time buyers on ordinary income, and local people get first dibs on new homes built in their area (p.79)
  • Capping rent increases to inflation, with new open-ended tenancies, and minimum property standards enforced through nationwide licensing (p.79)
  • Ensure street designs enable freedom for physically active outdoor play, and introduce measures to ensure zones around schools have safe, cleaner air (p.20)
  • Give effect to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (p.73)

GE2019: Liberal Democrat manifesto breakdown

We pull out the key policies from the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto, examining what they have to say on education, culture, young people and Brexit.

We have pulled out all the policies on Brexit, education, culture and young people, and detailed them below, along with the page numbers so you can check them for yourself and read additional context.

These are just a few of many policies that the Lib Dems are putting forward, and we encourage you to read the full manifesto to get a complete picture of what they are offering. You should also read the manifestos of the other parties.

If you haven’t already, please register to vote. The deadline to do so is 11:59pm on 26 November (17:00 if you’re registering for a postal vote). If you are looking for an explainer on the process of voting, we have a detailed guide here.

This article is purely informative, and simply breaks down what the manifesto says. 

There will be no opinion provided.


Liberal Democrats manifesto: Stop Brexit: Build a brighter future

Brexit

  • ‘Stop Brexit’ by revoking Article 50 (p.11)
  • In other circumstances [ie. they don’t win a majority] the LibDems will continue to push for a people’s vote with an option to remain, which they will campaign for (p.11)
  • Safeguard the rights of UK citizens in the EU and UK, and support Gibraltar in remaining in the EU (p.12)
  • Extend rights to EU citizens who have lived here for five or more years, including voting and standing in elections, and ensure that councils inform EU citizens of steps required to do so (pp.12-13)
  • By staying in the EU, the UK will benefit from a ‘Remain Bonus’, that will help fund public services (p.7)

Education

Early years

  • Free childcare for every child aged two to four and children aged between nine and 24 months where parents or guardians are in work 35 hours a week, 48 weeks a year (p.32)
  • Triple the Early Years Pupils Premium to give extra help to disadvantaged children who are at risk of falling behind from the start of the education (p.32)
  • Require all Early Years settings to have a training programme for staff, with the majority holding a relevant Early Years qualification or working towards one, and long term each setting should have at least one person qualified to graduate level (p.32)

Schools

  • Reverse cuts to school funding, employing an extra 20,000 teachers and reduce class sizes (pp.32-33)
  • Clear the backlog of repairs to school and college buildings (p.33)
  • Additional funding to local authorities to halve the amount that schools pay towards the cost of a child’s Education Health and Care Plan (p.33)
  • A new ‘curriculum for life’ that included PSHE, financial literacy, environmental awareness, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, mental health education, and relationship and sex education that includes LGBT+ relationships (p.33) and responsible social media usage (p.36)
  • Establish a body of education experts who will oversee any curriculum changes, taking the decision out of politicians hands (p.33)
  • Scrap mandatory SATs and replace with a formal teacher assessment at the end of each phase (p.33)
  • Replace league tables with broader indicators such as pupil and teacher wellbeing and academic attainment (p.33)
  • Replace OFSTED with an HM Inspector of Schools, with inspections taking place every three years, which will consider factors such as social and emotional development, and staff and pupil wellbeing. Independent schools will face the same scrutiny (p.33)
  • Improve vocational education and careers advice through strengthened links with employers in schools and colleges (p.33)
  • Abolish the English Baccalaureate as a performance measure, and allow students to study the arts and creative subjects (p.33)
  • Teach core skills required for children to flourish in the modern world eg. creativity, critical thinking and verbal reasoning (p.33)
  • Local authorities with responsibility for education the power and resources to act as Strategic Education Authorities for their area, including power for places planning, exclusions, admissions and SEND functions (p.34)
  • Multi-Academy Trusts are to undergo external inspections, and local authorities can open new Community Schools where needed (p.34)
  • No future expansion of grammar schools, and capital funding for new school spaces will be devolved to local authorities (p.34)
  • Raise the starting salary for teachers to £30,000 and increase all teachers pay by at least 3% a year throughout the Parliament (p.35)
  • Introduce clear and properly funded professional development for all teachers, including extra training to those who are required to teach a subject at secondary level where they themselves do not have a post A-level qualification (p.35)
  • Free school meals to all children in primary education, and secondary school children whose families receive Universal Credit, and promote breakfast clubs (p.35)
  • Ensure teachers are trained to identify mental health issues, and that there is immediate access for pupil support and counselling (p.35)
  • Additionally, there will be a specific individual responsible for mental health in schools who provide links to mental health experts, and take a lead on developing whole-school approaches to mental well-being (pp.35-36)
  • Schools will have a statutory duty to promote wellbeing as part of the inspection framework, and tackle bullying (p.36)
  • School uniform policies to be gender neutral and flexible enough to suit budgets, and training for staff to better review and improve uniform policies (p.36)
  • Challenge gender stereotypes and and early sexualisation (p.36)
  • Establish a national fund for projects that work in schools to raise the aspirations of ethnic minority children and young people (p.76)

Further education

  • Invest an extra £1bn in Further Education funding, including refunding the VAT they pay (p.36)
  • Introduce a ‘Young People’s Premium’ that will help children from poorer families stay in education beyond 16. It will be based on the criteria as the Pupil Premium, but some of that gets paid directly to the young person aged 16-18 (p.36)
  • Strengthen the Office for Students to raise standards in universities (p.36)
  • Require universities to make mental health services accessible to students, and introduce a Student Mental Health Charter through legislation (p.37)
  • Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students (p.37)
  • Evaluate the existing higher education finance model to see what the impact has been to access, participation and quality (p.37)
  • Ensure universities are working to widen participation of disadvantaged and underrepresented groups across the sector (p.37)

Culture

  • Maintain free access to national museums and galleries (p.37)
  • Move towards introducing ‘safe standing’ at football clubs, requiring the Sports Grounds Safety Authority to prepare guidance for implementing this change (p.37)
  • Support anti-racism and anti-homophobia campaigns in sport (p.37)
  • Protect the independence of the BBC and set up a BBC Licence Fee Commission, maintain Channel 4 in public ownership and protect the funding and editorial independence of Welsh language broadcasters (p.37)
  • Protect sports and arts funding via the National Lottery (p.37)
  • Examine the available funding and planning rules for live music venues and the grassroots music sector, protecting venues from further closures (p.37)
  • Ratify the Istanbul Convention to prevent violence against women and girls (p.70)

Young people

  • Help people who cannot afford a deposit by introducing a new Rent to Own model for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years (p.66)
  • Help young people into the rental market by establishing a new Help to Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30 (p.67)
  • Get police, teachers, health professionals, youth workers and social services all working closely together to prevent young people falling prey to gangs and violence, and treat youth violence as a public health issue (p.69)
  • Ringfence £500m of investment for local authorities to fix or develop youth services (p.69)
  • 16 and 17 year-olds will be able to vote in elections and referendums (p.79)
  • Ensure that all children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition receive treatment (p.54) and provide uninterrupted care when they transition to adult services (p.55)
  • Free leisure centre access, free bus travel for young carers, and self-referral to socially prescribed activities and courses (p.59)

GE2019: Green Party manifesto breakdown

We pull out the key policies from the Green Party’s manifesto, examining what they have to say on education, culture, young people and Brexit.

We have pulled out all the policies on Brexit, education, culture and young people, and detailed them below, along with the page numbers so you can check them for yourself and read additional context.

These are just a few of many policies that the Greens are putting forward, and we encourage you to read the full manifesto to get a complete picture of what they are offering. You should also read the manifestos of the other parties.

If you haven’t already, please register to vote. The deadline to do so is 11:59pm on 26 November (17:00 if you’re registering for a postal vote). If you are looking for an explainer on the process of voting, we have a detailed guide here.

This article is purely informative, and simply breaks down what the manifesto says. 

There will be no opinion provided.


Green Party manifesto: If not now, when?

Brexit

  • The Green Party believe a People’s Vote is the way forward for Brexit, and they will campaign for remain. (p.4)
  • They further believe that staying in the EU is the best way to combat the Climate Emergency (p.4)
  • Whatever the outcome of the second referendum, the Green Party will guarantee full rights of EU citizens and their families living in the UK, including the right to automatic settled status and uphold the rights and protections enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. (p.29)
  • They will also push for further reform of the EU, including pushing to centre operations in Brussels rather than split between then and Strasburg, increase transparency of the institutions through livestreaming and publishing minutes, allow citizens to propose initiatives and see that they receive a response, and address labour inequality across Europe to reduce migration long-term (pp.30-32)

Education

  • Increase funding for schools by at least £4bn a year (p.55)
  • Work to reduce class sizes to 20 (p.55)
  • Empower teachers to plan lessons and assess progress based on the needs of pupils by removing centrally imposed testing regimes and OFSTED inspections (pp.55-56)
  • Formal education to start at 6, while those under 6 are in early-years education focused on play based learning (p.56)
  • Bring schools back under the control of democratic elected local authorities (p.56)
  • Replace OFSTED with a system of assessing schools locally so they are accountable to the communities they serve (p.56)
  • Create an inclusive system where children with SEN can access their local school, while retaining the option for specialist schools, should the parent or child prefer that (p.56)
  • A new English Climate Emergency Education Act to teach young people about the climate crisis. There will also be more outdoor lessons, and a Nature GCSE (p.56)
  • Restore arts and music education in all state schools (p.56)
  • Remove charitable status from private schools and charge VAT on fees. Furthermore, private schools will be independently audited for accessibility and tax payments (pp.56-57)
  • Increase further education options, and raise the funding for 16-17-year-olds, and introduce a capital expansion fund for sixth form providers (p.57)
  • Scrap undergraduate tuition fees, and courses will be viewed as learning experiences, not pre-work training (p.57)
  • Write off existing debt for former students who paid the £9K tuition fee (p.57)
  • Increase funding for, and create new, adult education programmes (p.57)
  • End the opt-out of LGBTIQA+ inclusive PSHE classes at school to ensure that every child learns about different types of couples and families that make up UK society. (p.63)
  • Train school staff in spotting and stopping sexual harassment and bullying, to ensure that schools are safe places for all to learn in. (p.63)
  • Fund schools to provide free eco-friendly sanitary products to pupils. (p.63)
  • Invest £2bn a year in training and skills (including new apprenticeships) to help people access new jobs through the transition to a low carbon economy (p.19)

Culture

  • Restore arts and music education in all state schools (p.56)
  • Make a ‘Windrush Day’ bank holiday, to celebrate the contribution that migration has made to our society (p.61)
  • Increase central government funding to councils by £10 billion a year. Some of which is to be used to fund arts and culture, and keep open museums, theatres, libraries and art galleries (p.41)
  • Modernise and reforming copyright and intellectual property rights legislation to ensure a better balance between consumers and those work in the creative economy (p.52)
  • End the war on drugs, and reform drug legislation (pp.66-68)
  • The introduction of a Universal Basic Income

Young people

  • Make young people the core of their pro-European movement (p.29)
  • Give 16-17-year-olds the right to vote, and let them stand for Parliament and other elected offices from the age of 16. (p.35)
  • They will further support 16-year-olds who are elected so they can combine their duties with studying (p.35)
  • Appoint a Minister for Future Generations who will represent the needs of young people at the heart of government (p.38)
  • Extend staying put arrangements so young people can stay with foster parents until they are 21 (p.42)
  • Increasing the Living Wage to £12 and extending it to workers aged between 16 and 21 (p.50)
  • Promote children’s access to healthy foods, update School Food Standards to reflect latest nutritional guidelines and rename Free School Meals to School Meals Allowance (p.23)
  • Fund councils to deliver over 100,000 new social houses a year (p.41)
  • Invest in youth services and centres to help turn at-risk children away from crime (p.65)
  • Rent controls on private tenancies which reflect average local income rates and costs of maintenance (p.51)
  • End no-fault evictions and make it easier to set up community led housing initiatives (p.51)
  • Private renters in Houses of Multiple Occupancy will be able to buy and run their home as a housing co-op (p.51)

GE2019: Conservative Party manifesto breakdown

We pull out the key policies from the Conservative Party’s manifesto, examining what they have to say on education, culture, young people and Brexit.

We have pulled out all the policies on Brexit, education, culture and young people, and detailed them below, along with the page numbers so you can check them for yourself and read additional context.

These are just a few of many policies that the Tories are putting forward, and we encourage you to read the full manifesto to get a complete picture of what they are offering. You should also read the manifestos of the other parties.

If you haven’t already, please register to vote. The deadline to do so is 11:59pm on 26 November (17:00 if you’re registering for a postal vote). If you are looking for an explainer on the process of voting, we have a detailed guide here.

This article is purely informative, and simply breaks down what the manifesto says. 

There will be no opinion provided.


Conservative Party manifesto: Get Brexit Done: Unleash Britain’s Potential

Brexit

  • ‘Get Brexit done’ (repeatedly, but p.5)
  • Start putting our deal through Parliament before Christmas and we will leave the European Union in January (p.5)
  • A new free trade agreement with the EU… based on free trade and friendly cooperation, not on the EU’s treaties or EU law (p.5)
  • No political alignment with the EU (p.5)
  • Keep the UK out of the single market, out of any customs union, and end the role of the European Court of Justice (p.5)
  • Negotiate a trade agreement next year, and not extend the implementation period beyond December 2020 (p.5)
  • Legislate to ensure high standards of workers rights, environmental protection and consumer rights (p.5)

Education

  • Already announced £14bn in funding, translating to £150m a week (p.13)
  • That figure includes £780m in new funding for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) next year (p.13)
  • Raising the starting salary for teachers to £30,000 (p.13)
  • Back headteachers to use exclusions (p.13)
  • Continue to help teachers tackle bullying… no child should be bullied on account of who their parents are or where they come from (p.13)
  • Create more great schools, expand ‘alternative provision’ schools for those who have been excluded, and deliver more school places for those with SEN (p.13)
  • Intervene in schools where there entrenched underperformance (p.13)
  • Continue to ensure parents can choose schools that best suit their children (p.13)
  • Continue to build more free schools (p.13)
  • Offer an ‘arts premium’ to secondary schools to fund enriching activities for all pupils (p.13)
  • Invest in primary school PE teaching, and promote physical literacy and competitive sport (p.13)
  • Establish a new £1bn fund to help create more high quality, affordable childcare, including before and after school and during school holidays (p.15)
  • Maintaining our commitment to free school meals (p.17)
  • Trialling new Secure Schools for offenders, and will legislate to require schools, police, councils and health authorities to work through Violence Reduction Units to prevent serious crime (p.18)
  • Back the National Citizen Service and promote it in schools (p.23)
  • Investing almost £2 billion to upgrade the entire further education college estate (p.36)
  • Will also have 20 Institutes of Technology, which connect high-quality teaching in science, technology, engineering and maths to business and industry (p.36)
  • Look at the levels of interest rates on loan repayments (p.37)
  • Address grade inflation and low quality courses, improve the application and offer system for undergraduate students (p.37)
  • Strength academic freedom and free speech in universities and continue to focus on raising standards (p.37)
  • Require the Office for Students to look at universities’ success in increasing access across all ages, not just young people entering full-time undergraduate degrees (p.37)

Culture

  • Review the Gambling Act, with a particular focus on tackling issues around loot boxes and credit card misuse (p.20)
  • Champion freedom of expression and tolerance both in the UK and overseas (p.23)
  • Maintain support for a memorial recognising the contribution of the Windrush Generation (p.23)
  • A new Towns Fund for ‘levelling up’ towns across the country. This will initially go to 100 towns to improve their local economy, and they have full autonomy over how it is spent (p.26)
  • £250m cultural capital programme to support local libraries and regional museums (p.26)
  • A £150m Community Ownership Fund to encourage local takeovers of civic organisations or community assets under threat, including pubs, football clubs and post offices (p.26)
  • Fan-led review of football governance which will include consideration of the Owners and Directors Test. They will also work to introduce safe standing at stadiums (p.26)
  • Support activities, traditions and events that bring communities together, as well as local and regional newspapers by extending their business rates relief (p.26)
  • Bring full fibre and gigabit- capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025, and introduce £5bn of new public funding (p.28)
  • End the blight of rough sleeping (p.30)
  • Further reduce business rates for retail businesses, as well as extending the discount to grassroots music venues, small cinemas pubs (p.32)
  • The manifesto makes reference to The Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2022 (p.40)
  • Maintain support for creative sector tax reliefs and free entry to the UK’s national museums (p.42)
  • Support Welsh institutions such as S4C, the National Library and Museum, and the National Eisteddfod. They will also support the ambition of 1m people speaking Welsh by 2050 (p.47)

Young People

  • Prioritise stable loving placements for young people in care, with adoption where possible, or foster parents recruited by local authority (p.14)
  • Improve the Troubled Families programme (p.14)
  • Already announced an increase in the National Living Wage, currently forecast at £10.50 an hour, and widening it to everyone over 21 (p.14)
  • Already abolished employers National Insurance Contributions for under 21’s and apprentices under 25 (p.14)
  • Invest £500m in youth services (p.18)
  • Legislate to protect children from online abuse and harms, protecting the most vulnerable from accessing harmful content and ensuring there is no safe space for terrorists online (p.20)
  • The Youth Futures Foundation will invest at least £90m to improve employment outcomes for young people (p.23)
  • Long-term fixed rate mortgages which slash the cost of deposits (p.29)
  • Maintain the commitment to a Right to Buy, extend the Help to Buy scheme, simplify shared ownership products, and continue reforms to leaseholds that include implementing the ban on the sale of new leasehold homes, restricting ground rents and providing necessary mechanisms of redress for tenants (p.29)
  • Bring a Better Deal for Renters including abolishing ‘no fault evictions’ and requiring only one ‘lifetime’ deposit that moves with the tenant (p.29)
  • Commit to renewing the Affordable Homes Programme (p.30)

How to vote in general elections

In the UK, we hold elections to select our MPs. That vote, called a general election, decides how many MPs each party has in Parliament, and will subsequently dictate which party will get to form a government.

Until 2011, when the Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) was passed, a prime minister was able to call for an election whenever they liked. The FTPA changed that so, unless one of the conditions was met, elections would be held on the first Thursday of May every five years.

You must register to vote

The first thing to know is that you have to register to vote. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, you can register to vote when you are 17 years old. In Scotland you can register to vote when you are 15 years old.

Regardless of when you registered, you won’t be able to vote in a general election until you are 18.

To be eligible to vote in a UK general election you also need to be the following:

  • A UK, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen

  • Living at an address in the UK

    • If you are a UK citizen living abroad you need to have been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years

  • Not legally excluded from voting

You are excluded from voting in a general election if you are any of the following:

  • Someone found guilty of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election in the last five years

  • A convicted person who is currently being detained

  • Anyone of a nationality outside of UK, Irish, Cyprus or Malta

    • This includes EU citizens, who can register to vote in other elections in the UK

  • A member of the House of Lords

How do I register to vote?

 Providing that you meet all of the conditions above, registering to vote is simple, and should only take five minutes.

You will require your national insurance number, or your passport if you’re a British citizen living abroad.

More information, and the link to register to vote can be found on the Register to Vote website.

How do I vote?

Once you are registered to vote, you then need to wait for a general election to be called. You are then able to vote in one of three ways:

  • Voting in person on the day

  • Voting by post

  • Voting by proxy

Voting in person

If you’re going to vote in person, you will be going to a polling station to cast your ballot. You will receive a letter before the election that tells you where your polling station will be. Polling stations are open from 07:00 to 22:00, so make sure you are able to get on the day, if not, look to vote via one of the other methods.

On the day, voting is very simple.

When you arrive at the polling station, you make yourself known to the staff at the polling station. They will give you a ballot paper that lists all of the candidates you can vote for.

You will then be directed towards a polling booth which provides some privacy, so people cannot see how you vote. Read the instructions on the ballot paper, as it explains how you should vote.

Typically there will be a list of candidates, as well as the parties (if any) that they are affiliated with, and a box. You should put a cross in the box of the candidate you wish to vote for. Do not make any other marks on the paper or your vote may not be counted. If you make a mistake, just let a staff member know.

Once you have marked your selection, fold your ballot paper in half and then place it in the ballot box.

It’s as simple as that!

Voting by post

To do a postal vote, you will first need to print out and complete a form, and then send it to your local authority. You can find the form on the Government website.

You will receive your ballot papers in the post only after the deadline to become a candidate has passed. If you have any concerns, you should contact the elections team at your local council who will be able to help you.

Once you receive your postal ballot, you will need to make your vote and post the ballot paper back so it arrives before 22:00 on the day of the election — if you don’t then your vote won’t be counted.

It is important when you receive your postal vote that you don’t let anybody else have access to it. Complete your vote in secret, and if possible take the postal vote to the post box on your own. If it’s not possible, make sure you hand your vote to someone you trust. You could also ring your local election team to see if anyone is able to pick your vote up for you.

Once your postal ballot is in the postbox, that’s it, you’re done!

Voting by proxy

If you aren’t able to cast your vote in person, you might be able to vote by proxy. Unlike a postal vote, you must provide a reason for why you want to to vote by proxy. There are only certain reasons why you can request a proxy vote.

  • If you aren’t able to go to the polling station because you’re away

  • If you have a physical condition that prevents you from getting to the polling station

  • If you can’t get to the polling station because of your job

  • If you can’t get to the polling station because you’re on an educational course that prevents it

  • If you’re an eligible voter who lives overseas

  • If you are a member of the Armed Forces or a crown servant

To register for a proxy vote you will need to fill out a form and return it to your local Electoral Registration Office. There are different forms depending on why it is you are requesting the proxy. All of the forms can be found on the Government website, but please make sure you fill out the right one.

I’ve been appointed as someone’s proxy, what do I do?

As a proxy, you are voting on behalf of someone else. You can be a proxy for close relatives, and then two other people. You can only act as a proxy if you are 18 or older. Make sure you know how the person you’re proxy voting for wants to vote.

On the day, you will be required to go to the polling station of the person you’re proxy voting for. You should receive a proxy poll card telling you where this is. It could be different from your own polling station, so make sure you check! If you are unable to get to their polling station on the day, then you can apply to vote for them by post by 17:00 11 days before the general election date.

The person who nominated you to vote as their proxy can still vote themselves, providing they do so before you have voted for them, and as long as you haven’t requested a postal vote.

Emergency proxy vote

There may be certain circumstances where it turns out you are no longer able to go to the polling station as expected. You can apply for an emergency proxy from the sixth working day before the election date, right up until 17:00 on the day of the election.

You can apply for an emergency proxy based on either disability, or occupation, service or employment. You will have to fill out a form for either of those situations, and be able to prove that you found out that you can’t vote in person after the usual deadline.

If you want to apply for an emergency proxy based on disability, download this form and follow the instructions.

If you want to apply for an emergency proxy based on occupation, service or employment, download this form and follow the instructions.

If you need information or help, contact your local Electoral Registration Office.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Voting is an incredibly important civic duty, and if it’s your first time it can be very exciting. You might want to take pictures of the event to share on social media — but there are certain things you need to know. While it is fine to take pictures of you outside the polling station, it is important you don’t take pictures inside the polling station, or pictures of your ballot. There are strict requirements over secrecy of people’s ballots, and capturing a picture of someone’s ballot – even inadvertently – could find you in breach of those requirements.

If you move house you will need to register again so your ballot paper is available at your nearest polling station.


This article also appeared on UKPolitics.wtf – a new website that explains how politics in the UK works.

General election called for 12 December

The UK is set to hold a general election on 12 December after MPs vote to support Boris Johnson’s demand that the country go to the polls to break the Brexit deadlock.

Having tried on three separate occasions to get a general election, Boris Johnson finally won the support of Parliament, by a margin of 438 votes to 20. Parties were previously reluctant to allow a general election over fears that the timing would result in the UK crashing out of the EU with no-deal. Following the announcement that the European Council had granted an extension until 31 January 2020, that reluctance has mostly gone.

At the time of writing, the bill is yet to be approved by the Lords, but presuming it does, it could become law by the end of the week. There will then be five weeks of campaigning leading up to polling day.

The Brexit deadlock in Parliament led Boris Johnson to seek an election, hoping to win a majority and, by extension, implied public support for his Brexit deal. 10 of the 21 MPs he threw out of the party following their decision to rebel on Brexit votes have also been readmitted to the party, allowing them to also re-admitted 10 of the 21 MPs he previously withdrew the whip from, following their decision to rebel of Brexit.  However, should the election fail to produce a clear majority, we are likely to be no further forward.

An amendment to the bill that would have set the date for 9 December, possibly meaning more students were at their term-time address, was narrowly defeated by 315 votes to 295.

The difficulties Boris Johnson has faced in trying to secure an election come as a result of the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011, which states that general elections are to be held every five years on the first Thursday in May, unless a Government loses a vote of no confidence or there is a two-thirds majority vote for an early election. This was circumvented by the simple Early Parliamentary General Election Bill, which stated that an election was to be held on 12 December.

This is the first December election since 1923.

Prorogation is unlawful, void and of no effect

The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that Boris Johnson’s advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.

All 11 of the justices who heard the emergency three-day hearing last week were in agreement that the decision to prorogue Parliament had the effect of “frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification.”

Delivering the verdict, Lady Hale, current President of the Supreme Court stated that “No justification for taking action with such an extreme effect has been put before the court.” Furthermore, no justification was given for the necessity of a five week prorogation, given that the normal time to prepare for a Queen’s speech is four to six days.

In terms of remedies, The Court said that the decision to prorogue Parliament was “unlawful, void and of no effect”, and the Order in Council that led to proroguing was also unlawful, void and of no effect, and should be quashed. As such, Parliament has not been prorogued.

The Speaker and Lord Speaker are to decide what happens next, and in a statement released earlier, Speaker John Bercow has said that “the House of Commons must convene without delay. To this end, I will now consult the party leaders as a matter of urgency.”

Summary breakdown

In breaking down the decision, Lady Hale explained that the court first had to establish whether the prime minister’s decision to use royal prerogative powers could be scrutinised in the courts. The Scottish appeal court ruled that is was justiciable, while the English high court refused to intervene. The Supreme Court unanimously decided that it can be examined.

The Government argued that the decision was injusticable, because it was a Parliamentary proceeding. But when delivering the ruling, Lady Hale stated that this was not the case.

But it is quite clear that the prorogation is not a proceeding in Parliament. It takes place in the House of Lords chamber in the presence of members of both Houses, but it is not their decision. It is something which has been imposed upon them from outside. It is not something on which members can speak or vote. It is not the core or essential business of Parliament which the Bill of Rights protects. Quite the reverse: it brings that core or essential business to an end.

By this, she means that prorogation is actually imposed on the House by an external force (the Queen, at the advice of the prime minister) and represents the end of parliament, so cannot be a proceeding of Parliament.

Having decided that the prime minister’s advice to the Queen was justiciable, the second question The Court had to decide what the limits are on prerogative power – the power a prime minister is vested by the Queen to make decisions – in proroguing Parliament. To that end, The Court ruled the following:

“[Proroguing Parliament] will be unlawful if the prorogation has the effect of frustrating or preventing, without reasonable justification, the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions as a legislature and as the body responsible for the supervision of the executive.”

This means that if the decision to prorogue Parliament is made so the Government can the scrutiny that Parliament is democratically expected to apply, then it is an unlawful act.

Establishing the definition of an unlawful proroguing, The Court then had to establish whether that was applicable in the decision made by Boris Johnson when he prorogued Parliament earlier this month.

On this point, Lady Hale provided context for what happens during prorogation. While prorogued, neither the House of Commons or the House of Lords can meet, debate, or pass legislation, and any legislation currently being worked on have to start from scratch once Parliament reopens. Lady Hale said that the prolonged suspension took place in “exceptional circumstances”, with just weeks before the UK is set to leave the European Union, and that the House of Commons, as the democratically elected voice of the people, should have a say in how that comes about.
She then continued to say that the Government failed to provide any justification for the prolonged halting of Parliament, and subsequently it must be concluded that it was done to prevent Parliament from completing its constitutional functions.

The summary statement read by Lady Hale can be found here, and if you want to read the full judgement, it is available here.

What to know what prorogation means, and why this is a big deal? We have an explainer article for you here.

What does prorogation mean, and how will this impact Brexit?

In the latest of a series of escalating actions, Boris Johnson has announced that Parliament will be suspended for five weeks at some point week commencing 9 September, and will not reconvene until the 14 October. We will explain how this suspension is happening, the impact it could have on Brexit, why people are calling it an affront to democracy, and how the Queen is involved.


What is proroguing?

Simply put, prorogation is the formal mechanism for ending a session of Parliament. These are a common event in British politics, usually happening every autumn.

The suspension of Parliament (prorogation) is then proceeded by the State Opening of Parliament. This is an elaborate ceremony demonstrating the independence of Parliament from the monarch, and includes the slamming of the door on Black Rod, taking an MP ‘hostage’ and, most importantly, the Queen’s speech in the House of Lords, which details the legislative agenda for the government during the new session of Parliament.

It could be argued (and the Government is adopting this line) that this is simply business as usual, and is in fact overdue since there hasn’t been a Queen’s speech since 2017, making the current Parliament session the longest in nearly 400 years.

If it’s normal, why is this such a big deal?

Although a normal element in the cycle of Parliament, there are a number of factors that make the decision to prorogate now controversial.

Firstly, Parliament is being suspended for five weeks. Even if the Brexit deadline wasn’t just 17 days after the start of the new Parliament session, it would still be the longest period of prorogation since 1945. It is very rare in modern times that Parliament be suspended for more than a week.

However, it is important to note that the five week period does include three weeks where Parliament would normally have been suspended anyway, to allow for Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat party conferences. On the other hand, there were suggestions that MPs were considering voting to cancel that recess so there was proper time to debate Brexit legislation.

Towards the end of Theresa May’s tenure as Prime Minister, and more so during the Conservative leadership elections, there were discussions around closing Parliament to prevent it from having input on any Brexit deal. This was particularly the case after the government faced a number of defeats on the Withdrawal Agreement. At the time it was seen as the musings of the far-right fringes of the Conservative Party, and not a serious plan because of the democratic implications it would have.

It’s all the more controversial because Boris Johnson, as well as many in his cabinet (Michael Gove, Nicky Morgan, Andrea Leadson, Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid and others) all said that they would not support the closing of Parliament to push through Brexit. They are now notably silent.

The prevailing opinion is that, contrary to the government’s position that this is normal procedure, the decision to suspend Parliament now has been made to limit the time that MPs will have to debate any legislation and, perhaps intentionally, stop Parliament from passing legislation that binds the government’s hands into avoiding a no-deal. This is seen as a complete affront to democracy, where elected representatives are being cut out of the decision making process, and concentrating power with the few who work within the cabinet.

How is the Queen involved?

TL;DR – The Queen is the head of state, and everything happens with her consent.

This is however a very simplified understanding of British politics, and the reality is a lot more nuanced.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, meaning that the monarch (ie. the Queen) is the head of state, and operates within a constitutional framework. Unlike countries such as the United States, the UK does not have a codified constitution, by which we mean a single document with the whole framework for governance written down. In some ways this is good, because it offers a nimbleness and flexibility that other countries don’t have (gun control, anyone?) but on the other hand, it leaves a lot to interpretation, and the respect of traditions and norms.

The Queen is the head of state, and ‘officially’ has royal prerogative, meaning that Parliament and the Government (also referred to as the executive) serve at her request, and every bill passed requires royal assent.  However, the reality is that the powers of a monarch are now limited. Between the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights (1689), the monarch ultimately only exercises their power to open and close Parliament and to select a prime minister. Even with those tasks, convention says the individual selected for prime minister is the leader of the largest party in a general election, and it is then the prime minister that advises the monarch to dissolve Parliament. A monarch hasn’t signed a bill in person since the 16th century, instead writing a letter to state that they give consent, or appointing a Lord to inform both Houses that consent has been granted.

Even the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament is written by the Government.

Could she have declined Boris Johnson’s request?

Officially, as written above, the Queen is the head of state, and Parliament and the executive government serves with her consent and devolved royal prerogative, so she technically has the power to decline the request. However, it would have been a complete departure from tradition – and likely would have invoked a constitutional crisis – had she do so.

Power has shifted from the monarch to the Government, and although the Queen meets weekly with the Prime Minister, and she can offer advice and opinions, they aren’t obligated to consider it.
The last time Royal Assent was withheld was in 1707 by Queen Anne, who blocked a Scottish Militia Bill.

Can prorogation be stopped?

This is currently the big question, with a simple and a complex answer – obviously.

The simple answer is no. Prorogation is not something that MPs vote on (the PM instructs the monarch to do it) so isn’t something that can be stopped within Parliament. According to leaked government correspondence, the attorney general Geoffrey Cox is reportedly of the opinion that shutting parliament is possible, unless action taken in the courts to block the move.

Unsurprisingly, there are currently a number of legal options currently being explored. 75 MPs, led by SNP MP Joanna Cherry and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, began legal action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh last month to prevent a Parliament shut down, and are now seeking an interim interdict (Scottish version of an injunction) to prevent the government’s plans to shut down Parliament until their original case is heard on 6 September.

Campaigner Gina Miller, who previously won a court case that required the Government to legislate Article 50 through Parliament, has also stated that her lawyers have made an urgent application to the high court for a judicial review of the plans.

More interesting, is the report that the MEPs (Members of European Parliament) are currently organising to trigger an investigation into the government for breaching the rule of law, under Article 7 of the EU’s founding treaty. The rule of law, in context to the UK, was established in the Magna Carta in 1215, and has many separate ideas. The key aspects here are that there are checks and balances against unfettered power, and that nobody – not even governments (or monarchs, at the time) – are above the law.

Are there any other options?

Parliament returns from recess on 3 September, and will (at time of writing) be suspended again at some point during the week commencing 9 September. This gives MPs who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit, or dislike that the Government is potentially trying to circumvent Parliament, just one week to come up with a plan.

Humble address

One plan currently circulating is a “humble address”. This is a motion tabled by the Opposition that is a formal message to the Queen. It can be debated, amended and voted upon the same way any other motion can, and once agreed they are considered to be binding. Should the government opt to ignore a humble address, they would be considered in contempt of Parliament. It was the case that humble addresses were infrequently used, but in the last few years they have been used to effect by forcing the government to publish both their Brexit economic impact assessments, and the legal advice of the attorney general regarding the Irish backstop.

Emergency debate

Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, has described Boris Johnson’s plans to prorogue parliament as “a constitutional outrage”. Bercow represents the interests of the Commons, and is the individual charged with enforcing (or bending, depending on your opinion) parliamentary procedure. It is widely expected that he will ensure there be time during the first week to allow MPs to pass legislation to limit Johnson’s plans, perhaps through an emergency debate.

Vote of no confidence

A few weeks ago, Corbyn wrote a letter to MPs inviting them to support him in issuing a vote of no confidence and bringing down the government. He proposed that he lead a caretaker (temporary) government that would seek an extension to Article 50 and then dissolve Parliament for a general election, and committed to delivering a final referendum over Brexit if Labour wins. The plan was originally rejected by would-be no-deal opponents, such as Tory MP Dominic Grieve and Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson, but they later agreed to meet and discuss plans. It was decided that a vote of no confidence would be a last resort, if legislative movements failed. The Leader of the Opposition would be the assumed replacement for prime minister, but Corbyn’s brand is such that he might struggle to command a majority for support.

Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011, if a vote of no confidence is successfully voted on, Parliament then has 14 days to find someone who they think is best suited to become the Prime Minister, otherwise a general election is triggered. The incumbent can also force a general election earlier if they can get two-thirds of the House to support it.

A general election is not immediately the desired outcome, as the date is set by the government, who can just schedule it for after the deadline.

Can a no-deal be stopped?

Because the UK has triggered Article 50, there needs to be a deal in place to prevent us from leaving without a deal. It may seem obvious, but a no-deal will happen in the absence of a deal. The only way to prevent it is to either sign a deal, or revoke Article 50.

Without decisive action from MPs (and the time to actually implement them) a no-deal will happen on 31 October.

It should not be forgotten that we have already negotiated a deal with the EU, and it was voted down three times by Parliament due to the contentious Irish Backstop. There is frequent talk of trying to negotiate a better deal with the EU that would remove the backstop, but these that present this as an option are hopeful at best and deceptive at worst. The EU will categorically not renegotiate the Irish Backstop without the UK dropping its red lines over customs alignment, because otherwise it would blow a hole in the single market.

The Irish Backstop exists to prevent a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as agreed in the Good Friday Agreement. Should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal, a hard border would have to be reintroduced and that would significantly damage British political clout and respect on the global stage. It would also very likely shut off any chance of a deal with the US.

Is democracy at stake?

As written above, prorogation in itself is not a democratic problem. It is a normal part of a Parliament’s lifecycle, and simply delineates the end of one parliamentary session and the start of the next.

However, it is my personal opinion, and one shared by many, that the decision to prorogue now is merely a cynical attempt to sidestep Parliament and prevent any action on the part of MPs that could interfere with a no-deal Brexit.

Parliament serves an important function in democracy as providing legislative oversight and scrutiny of the executive, making sure that laws are passed that are (believed to be) in the interest of the nation. Without parliamentary oversight, and with the aforementioned limited powers of the monarch, we would have power centralised with the prime minister, who could do whatever they wanted.

Our flexible constitution means that power can shift between the executive (the Government) and the legislative (Parliament), in part depending on the size of the majority that the prime minister holds.
After the disastrous 2017 election, there is no overall majority in the Commons, and the Conservative Government is propped up by a confidence and supply agreement with the DUP – who have proven to be a fickle ally. Between that, and party divisions over what should happen with Brexit, Johnson definitely does not have the support to allow the country to crash out without a deal, so it certainly appears as though he is attempting to close Parliament as a political convenience to make sure it happens.

That is a total affront to the principles of democracy, and is something that everyone, regardless of political allegiances, should be angry and worried about.