Tag: UK ELECTIONS

UK GOES TO THE POLL TO CHOOSE NEW LEADERSHIP FOR THE NEXT 5 YEARS

Voting in the UK general election is under way at more than 40,000 polling stations across the country.

Polls opened at 07:00 BST on Thursday, with counting starting once voting ends at 22:00 BST.

A total of 650 Westminster MPs will be elected, with about 46.9 million people registered to vote.

That is up from the last general election, in 2015, when there were 46.4 million registered voters.

Some votes have already been cast, through postal voting, which accounted for 16.4% of the total electorate at the 2015 general election. People with an undelivered postal vote can still deliver it by hand to their local polling station.

Overall turnout in 2015, when the Conservatives won 331 out of 650 seats, was 66.4%, up from 2010.

Most polling stations are in schools, community centres and parish halls, but pubs, a launderette and a school bus have been used in the past.

Police have increased security at polling stations, including patrols by armed officers in some areas, following the recent terror attacks.

A handful of seats are expected to be declared by midnight, with the final results expected on Friday afternoon.

Unusually, no local elections are taking place at the same time, so results might come through earlier than in recent general elections.

In 2015 the first seat to declare was Houghton and Sunderland South, at 22:48 BST.

To form a majority in the House of Commons one party must win 326 seats – in 2015 a Conservative majority was not confirmed until 13:34 BST.

A woman and her dog outside a polling station

The weather forecast is for some rain in south-west England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales on Thursday, with south-east England remaining cloudy and dry.

Polls close at 22:00 BST, but officials say anyone in a polling station queue at this time should be able to cast their vote.

The BBC’s main election programme, fronted by David Dimbleby, starts at 21:55 BST, with live coverage from scores of counts.

Dimbleby, fronting his 10th election night broadcast, will be joined by Mishal Husain, Emily Maitlis, Jeremy Vine.

David Dimbleby

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will have their own overnight programmes but will join Huw Edwards from 07:00 BST on 9 June.

On the radio, an overnight broadcast by BBC Radio 4 will be hosted by Jim Naughtie and Carolyn Quinn.

On BBC Radio 5 live, the overnight show will be hosted by Stephen Nolan and Emma Barnett.

Full coverage of the results as they come in will be on the BBC politics online live page and front page scorecard, with all the big breaking stories from around the country and analysis by correspondents

 

What you need to know about the election:

If you are on the electoral register, you should have received a polling card through the post which has your name, polling number and the address of your polling station printed on it.

Polling stations are usually set up in public buildings such as schools, community centres and village halls near where you live.

If you have not received a polling card but think you should have, contact your local authority’s election office.

If you have lost your polling card, the office will be able to tell you where your polling station is.

To find the contact details of your local office, enter your postcode on the About My Vote website.

Do I need to take my polling card with me?

A church in Teesside, England

No. The polling card is for your information only, but taking it to the polling station can speed up the process.

Can I go to any polling station?

No. You must vote at the polling station to which you have been assigned.

Any voter who has not had a chance to post their postal vote (if they have asked for one) can still take it to their polling station.

What do I do when I get to the polling station?

When you arrive, staff will take your details and cross off your name on their checklist. In Northern Ireland, staff will also ask for a form of photographic ID.

How to vote graphic

What happens next?

You will be given a ballot paper listing candidates and parties you can vote for. It will be printed on special paper or feature an official mark or number to combat fraud.

Then I vote?

Yes. Take the ballot paper to one of the booths, which are screened to ensure secrecy.

Each polling booth should include sharpened pencils, attached to string long enough to accommodate both right and left-handed voters. You can use you own pen or pencil if you prefer.

Read the ballot paper carefully before you vote.

How do I vote?

Put an X in the box next to the name of the person you want to vote for. If you mark any more boxes, your paper will be invalid.

Hand writing on ballot paper

Can I put a smiley face instead?

The Electoral Commission says the best way to make sure your vote is counted is to mark an X in a box. But a smiley face or anything which is interpreted by a returning officer as an expression of preference “must not be rejected if the voter’s intention is clear”, its guidance to Returning Officers says.

What do I do with my marked ballot paper?

Fold the ballot paper so others cannot see your choice and post it in the ballot box.

Casting a voteImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

What if I make a mistake?

Don’t worry. You can get your ballot paper reissued, so long as you have not put it in the ballot box.

Can I spoil my ballot paper?

Yes. The verification of the used, unused and spoilt ballot papers is a legal requirement. Some people spoil their votes as a means of registering their democratic right to express a view, but not vote for any of the candidates.

I have got a disability. Can I get help?

Polling station in a caravanImage copyrightTHINKSTOCK

Yes, everyone has the right to request assistance to mark their ballot paper. You can do this by asking the presiding officer to mark the paper for you. Or bring a close family member who is over 18, or someone who is eligible to vote at the election, such as a support worker, with you.

If you have a visual impairment, you can ask for a special voting device that allows you to vote on your own in secret. A large print version of the ballot paper should also be clearly displayed in the polling station.

Returning officers must also consider accessibility requirements when planning for an election, and polling stations are selected in consultation with local disability groups so that wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces are available.

If a voter cannot enter the polling station because of a physical disability, the presiding officer may take the ballot paper to the elector.

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I have a learning disability. Can I get help?

Yes. If you need help, call the Electoral Commission’s public information line on 0333 103 1928.

A dedicated helpline for anyone with a learning disability who has questions about casting their vote, or experiences any difficulties in doing so, has also been set up by Mencap, a partner of the Electoral Commission.

The helpline is also available to the families and carers of people with learning disabilities, and to polling station staff. The number is 020 7696 5588.

What if I cannot get to a polling station?

Tattooed arm casts vote in ballot boxImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

If you are suddenly incapacitated or taken ill on polling day, you can apply for an emergency proxy up until 17:00 BST on the day.

I forgot to register, can I vote?

No. You cannot vote unless you are on the electoral register.

Is it compulsory to vote?

No, people cannot be forced to vote.

When will I know the result?

The votes will start to be counted as soon as the polls close at 22:00 BST. Constituencies will start to declare within the first few hours of the vote, with a large number expected between 03:00 BST on Friday and 05:00 BST. It is difficult to predict when a new government will be formed, and depends on how close the election is.

 

BBC NEWS

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POLICE TO MAN POLLING STATIONS IN TOWER HAMLETS TO PREVENT VOTER INTIMIDATION AND FRAUD

Officers of the Metropolitan Police will be present at every polling station in Tower hamlets in a bid to tackle electoral fraud and voter intimidation.

The council will also set up exclusion zones at most of its polling stations tomorrow, to stop large groups of campaigners from obstructing or intimidating voters in the Bethnal Green and Bow, and Poplar and Limehouse constituencies.

The 2014 mayoral contest in Tower Hamlets was declared void due to ‘corrupt and illegal practices’.

Will Tuckley, acting returning officer for Tower Hamlets said: ‘We work closely with the police and the Electoral Commission to monitor elections and this has resulted in a significant reduction in allegations of fraud since 2014, and only a handful in the last three elections (GLA, EU referendum and Whitechapel by-election).

‘Some of the measures brought in by the council such as “exclusion zones” outside polling stations have now been recommended nationally as good practice.’

The council has also set up a hotline and dedicated email address for people to report any allegations of fraud, all of which will be investigated within 24 hours.

THE BATTLE FOR NO 10: CORBYN AND MAY IN BRUISING PRE ELECTION TV DEBATE

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn were left bruised but not battered as they survived tough questioning from voters and veteran interviewer Jeremy Paxman on Sky News.

In the 90-minute programme, the Prime Minister was repeatedly challenged on her policy u-turns – while the Labour leader was grilled on his past support for the IRA.

Both leaders dodged some awkward questions: Mr Corbyn on whether he would order the killing of a terrorist threatening an attack on the UK, and Mrs May on the Conservatives’ social care policy.

Supporters of both party leaders claimed victory after the Battle For Number 10 show by Sky News and Channel 4 – the first in this General Election to be broadcast in front of a live TV audience.

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May took part in the first live TV audience Q&A

Brexit Secretary David Davis said: “The Prime Minister brought it back to the fundamentals – who is going to get the best Brexit deal, and in doing so who will be able to secure our economy, our public services and our national security.”

And a spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: “Theresa May floundered on her record on police cuts, on funding for our NHS and schools, and on her manifesto policy on social care that didn’t last more than a few days before it was amended with an unspecified cap.”

At times, Jeremy Paxman was scathing about both party leaders – claiming the PM’s u-turns made her look like a “blowhard who collapses at the first sign of gunfire”.

:: The verdict on Corbyn and May’s studio grilling

Mrs May is asked about recent U-turns

May: ‘A blowhard who collapses at first sign of gunfire’?

Mr Corbyn’s most uncomfortable moments during questions from the audience came when it was claimed he had “openly supported the IRA in the past” by attending a commemoration for IRA members killed by the SAS.

In reply, Mr Corbyn said there was a period of silence for “everyone who died in Northern Ireland” at the 1987 event.

Another member of the audience said he could not vote Labour due to Mr Corbyn’s “ruthless, shortsighted” policies, which include raising corporation tax to 26%, a £10-an-hour minimum wage and imposing VAT on private school fees.

Replying to another man who said he liked the Labour manifesto but did not see him as “someone who could run this country”, Mr Corbyn said he saw himself as a listening politician.

And in one of his better moments during the programme, he pointed to his ear first and then his mouth, and said: “Leadership is as much about using this as using this.”

Mr Corbyn refused to be drawn on immigration levels under Labour after Brexit, though he said they would “probably” be no higher than at present.

:: The Battle for Number 10: What we learned (and what we didn’t)

Jeremy Corbyn says leadership is about listening

Corbyn on leadership: It’s about listening

Then, in fierce clashes with Mr Paxman, Mr Corbyn was asked why he had been unable to get his long-held belief in nuclear disarmament into the Labour manifesto, which backs the renewal of the Trident deterrent system.

“This manifesto is the product of the views of the Labour Party – party conference decisions and the views put forward by individuals in the shadow cabinet,” Mr Corbyn said.

The renewal of Trident was “a conference decision by the Labour Party and as the leader of the party I accept the democracy of our party”, the leader added.

As Mr Paxman repeatedly interrupted him, Mr Corbyn said light-heartedly at one point: “Come on, give us a chance.”

And when he was challenged over why some of his “core beliefs” – such as nationalising banks – did not feature in the Labour manifesto, he said: “I’m not a dictator who writes things to tell people what to do.”

The Labour leader appeared surprised when asked why he was not proposing to abolish the British monarchy, saying: “It’s not on anybody’s agenda, it’s certainly not on my agenda.”

Corbyn says abolishing monarchy ‘not on agenda’

During her grilling from the studio audience, Mrs May was accused by a police officer of presiding over “devastating” cuts, asked by a midwife to justify her “chronic underfunding” of the NHS and heckled over school funding.

She told the police officer: “What we had to do when we came into government in 2010 was to ensure that we were living within our means and that was very important because of the economic situation we had inherited.

“It’s not just about the numbers of police – people often focus on the numbers of police. It’s actually about what the police are able to do and how they are being deployed on our streets.”

Mrs May was then tackled on social care plans, dubbed the “dementia tax”, by an elderly audience member wearing a military tie and blazer, who asked: “Why should we in my generation vote for you?”

She told him: “We will put an absolute cap on the level of money that people have to spend on care.

“And I think what we’re doing is ensuring we can have a sustainable solution for the long-term.”

She was then heckled by an audience member after a replying to a question on school funding, saying: “Nobody can guarantee the real terms per pupil funding increase.”

:: ‘You’ve clearly failed’: Voter heckles May

:: Corbyn: I won’t be soft on terror if I become PM

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Theresa May heckled over school funding

Mrs May also repeated her “no deal is better than a bad deal” slogan when asked if she was prepared to walk away from Brexit talks.

When Mr Paxman asked whether she was prepared to walk away, Mrs May replied: “I think you have to. In negotiations you have to recognise that you’re not in there to get a deal at any price.”

But the toughest exchanges for the Prime Minister came when Mr Paxman challenged her on a series of u-turns, on social care, national insurance and calling an election.

Mr Paxman told her: “What one’s bound to say is that if I was sitting in Brussels and I was looking at you as the person I had to negotiate with, I’d think ‘she’s a blowhard who collapses at the first sign of gunfire’.”

:: Watch the highlights of May v Corbyn: The Battle For Number 10 on Sky News at 2.30pm and 4.30pm.

 

SKY NEWS


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WOMEN’S EQUALITY PARTY LAUNCHES MANIFESTO. PLEDGES EXTRA MONTH OF PATERNITY LEAVE

The Women’s Equality Party says it would invest in “social infrastructure” with free childcare and “fully equal” parental leave.

The party, founded in 2015, is contesting seven seats on 8 June and launched its manifesto on Friday.

Leader Sophie Walker said it included plans for more parental leave and 40 hours free child care a week.

The Lib Dems are also pledging an extra month of paternity leave on top of the current statutory two weeks.

The party, which pushed for the introduction of shared parental leave when in coalition with the Conservatives, said it would outline how the measure would be funded when its manifesto is published.

But former Lib Dem minister Jo Swinson said: “More needs to be done in order to encourage men to take leave when they become a dad, to bond with their child during the early weeks and months of their life.”

Since 2003, new fathers have been entitled to two weeks’ paid leave if they meet certain criteria, such as having worked for their employer for a defined length of time. Statutory paternity pay is currently £140.98 a week or 90% of average weekly earnings, if that is lower.

In April 2015, new rights came in to allow parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay, if it is agreed with the employer with eight weeks’ notice.

Women's Equality Party supportersImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Ms Walker told BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour that the party’s manifesto pledged a “fully equal” system of parental leave, for both parents, including adoptive parents and same sex couples. This would include three months off work on 90% of pay.

She said that many men could not currently afford to take their full paternity leave entitlement.

She put the cost of the policy at £6.5bn, based on average salaries, numbers of people with children and numbers of those in work and said it would be partly funded by taking £4bn from the government’s infrastructure investment fund. Employers would also be asked to pay an insurance levy of 0.076% of salary costs.

“We have to invest pound for pound in physical infrastructure and social infrastructure,” she told the programme.

“Physical infrastructure is one way of creating jobs and economic growth – but social infrastructure is really vital.”

She also elaborated on her plan for 40 hours a week free childcare for children aged between nine months and primary school age – at a cost of £33bn, which Ms Walker said should be funded by changes to pension tax relief, rises in alcohol and fuel duty and postponing cuts to corporation tax. She said the pledge would revolutionise lives and would help businesses.’

From September, three- and four-year-olds in England will be entitled to 30 free hours of care per week in term time – up from the current 15 hours, although there have been some concerns it will mean higher fees and extra charges.

Other pledges include tackling violence against women with better funding for specialist services, improving funding for social care and introduce a right to paid leave for carers.

Ms Walker said her party was inviting the biggest parties to steal its policies “because we want to get the job done”.

“The very DNA of this party is that we would like to put ourselves out of business, we also seek to work with like-minded people and this is very much part of that.”

Asked about criticism that the party risks splitting the vote and could unseat some women MPs, she said: “We sat down and worked out our election strategy based on ensuring that women’s representation in Parliament is maintained so we are not running anywhere where we would knock a woman out to the cost of the overall numbers.

“We have specifically also looked to make sure that we would not knock out a black, Asian or minority ethnic woman, because their representation in Parliament is even lower.”

LABOUR GOVERNMENT WILL END CAR PARK CHARGES IN NHS ENGLAND HOSPITALS – CORBYN

Labour will end car parking charges at NHS England hospitals by raising insurance tax on private healthcare to 20%, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

He vowed a Labour government would make parking free for patients, visitors and NHS staff, with the £160m annual cost of the policy paid for by the insurance increase.

Last month, a freedom of information request by the union Unison revealed some hospitals are charging staff, including nurses struggling with low wages, nearly £100 a month to park, resulting in reports of nurses having to rush out between appointments to move their cars to avoid fines.

Speaking in Worcester, Corbyn said: “Labour will end hospital parking charges, which place an unfair and unnecessary burden on families, patients and NHS staff.

 

“Hospital parking charges are a tax on serious illnesses”

 “Our hospitals are struggling from underfunding at the hands of Theresa May’s Conservative government, but the gap should not be filled by charging sick patients, anxious relatives and already hard-pressed NHS staff for an essential service. Our NHS needs a Labour government that will stand up for the many, not the few.”
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UK ELECTIONS 2017: CONSERVATIVES ALMOST CERTAIN TO WIN – VINCE CABLE

The Lib Dem grandee Vince Cable has dismissed repeated government warnings about a “coalition of chaos” because he said the Conservatives were almost certain to win.

Cable, who was business secretary in the last coalition government, told Sky News: “The coalition of chaos stuff is pathetic. It did work last time. People were frightened of Ed Miliband and the SNP. This [time it] isn’t cutting through, nobody seriously believes Jeremy Corbyn is going to get into government. It is almost certain that we are going get a Conservative government, probably with quite big numbers. What we now need is credible opposition.”

Cable, who is standing in the election to try to regain his old Twickenham seat, also claimed the slowdown in GDP was linked to Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

He said: “I’m pretty certain that that is the case. But I don’t want to get too carried away with short-term results.” Cable added:

There are basically two scenarios. One is that the economy keeps growing quite strongly on the basis of consumer credit and high house prices, and we know where that ends: badly. Or the alternative is that the economy is actually slowing, people can see problems ahead. They can see that Brexit is going to be very messy and that suggests a period of not stagnation, maybe worse, and living standards being squeezed. It is not an great outlook.

Meanwhile,  Ukip leader, Paul Nuttall, is launching his party’s campaign at London’s County Hall.

Nuttall says calling the election was cynical and one of the biggest U-turns in living memory. “It is flagrant opportunism,” he said.

He insists the election is about Brexit. A big Tory majority will put hard Brexit at risk, he claims. “It is a job half done,” he says.

 

Nuttall claims that increased immigration makes the UK a more divided society. He claims that net immigration represents an increase in the population the size of the city of Newcastle.

He calls for proportional representation and an English parliament.

In the Q&A, Nuttall again refuses to say where he plans to stand. He says reporters will have to wait until tomorrow for his announcement.

He refused to be drawn on whether he will stand again in Stoke or Boston and Skegness.

Nuttall said his predecessor Nigel Farage would play a “front of house” role in Ukip’s campaign.

He said Ukip would be targeting seats “more sensibly” in this election. He confirms that Ukip will “put country before party” by standing aside in constituencies where “true Brexiteers” are already MPs.

UK ELECTIONS 2017: USEFUL FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called a general election on 8 June – three years earlier than scheduled.

Why has Theresa May called an election?

Mrs May’s official reason for holding an election is to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. She claims Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems will try to destabilise and frustrate the process in Parliament.

But it is not that unusual for prime ministers who have tiny Commons majorities to hold an election to tighten their grip on power. As things stand, it does not take many Conservative backbenchers – MPs who are not part of the government – to decide they don’t like something the government is doing to get it derailed. Mrs May’s party has a big opinion poll lead over Labour so she will be hoping the election will see her getting a bigger majority in the House of Commons.

Mrs May is also tied to the promises made by the Conservatives at the 2015 election, when David Cameron was prime minister. She has made a few changes – such as backing grammar schools and easing plans to reduce the deficit – but an election gives her the chance to set out her own vision for Britain.

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How do the parties stand in the polls?

The average of five opinion polls published in April puts the Conservatives on a little under 43% compared with a little over 25% for Labour – a lead of more than 17%. This would translate into a comfortable win for Mrs May’s party at an election if that’s how people voted. The Liberal Democrats were on 10%, UKIP 11% and the Greens on 4%.

What is a general election?

A general election is how the British public decide who they want to represent them in Parliament, and ultimately run the country. Everyone who is eligible – and registered to vote (see below) – gets to vote for one candidate to represent their local area, which is known in Parliament as a constituency.

The candidates standing for election are usually drawn from political parties, but can also stand as independents. The person with the most votes in a constituency is elected as its MP, to represent that area in the House of Commons.

The leader of the political party with the most MPs after the election is expected to be asked by the Queen to become prime minister and form a government to run the country. The leader of the political party with the second highest number of MPs normally becomes leader of the opposition.

 

Who is allowed to vote?

Basically, if you’re aged 18 or over on election day, registered to vote and a British citizen you can vote. Citizens of the Republic of Ireland resident in the UK and citizens of qualifying Commonwealth states resident in the UK can also vote if they are over 18 and registered to vote.

 

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What if I live abroad?

British citizens living abroad can register online to vote as an “overseas voter” if they have been registered to vote in the UK in the past 15 years.

How do I register to vote?

To vote in a general election you must be registered to vote. Registration is open throughout the year.

Voters can check if they are already registered by contacting their local electoral registration office using the Electoral Commission’s website.

People in England, Wales and Scotland can register to vote online, or download the forms to register by post, from the government’s website. Voters in Northern Ireland use a different form that is returned to their local Area Electoral Office.

When is the deadline to register to vote?

Assuming you are eligible, you can register any time but be aware that there will be a deadline. The deadline for registration is 22 May 2017. Anyone who misses the deadline won’t be able to vote.

You can even get yourself on the register if you are 16 or 17 but you will have to have turned 18 before 8 June to actually be eligible to vote.

If you registered for the EU Referendum, Northern Ireland Assembly elections in March 2017 or the upcoming local elections in May, and your details have not changed, you won’t need to register again.

What about students who live away from home?

Students may be registered at both their home address, and at a university or college address. It all depends whether you spend an equal amount of time at each and, ultimately, the electoral registration officer will decide whether or not someone can register at both. At the general election, it is an offence to vote more than once.

What should I do if I’ve moved house?

Anyone who has moved since they last voted, must register at their new address – paying council tax does not mean you are registered to vote. If you don’t re-register in time, you may be able to still vote at the address you originally registered at. If this is too far away, you can always vote by post or arrange a proxy vote.

What if I’m on holiday?

You can vote either by post or by proxy – which is where you appoint someone else to register your vote on your behalf. To do that you can download the form here. Whoever you nominate must be eligible to vote in the election themselves.

If you want to post it, you need to apply at least 11 working days before the election. You have to get your form to your local electoral registration office by 5pm on 23 May. Details of where to find your local registration office are on this site.

Why is this a ‘surprise’ or ‘snap’ election’?

British prime ministers used to be free to hold a general election whenever they felt like it – but new laws passed by Mrs May’s predecessor David Cameron changed that.

Under the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a general election is supposed to take place every five years on the first Thursday in May. As the most recent general election was in 2015, the next one was scheduled for May 2020.

But an election can be called ahead of schedule for two reasons – if there is a vote of no confidence in the current government or if MPs vote for an early election by a two-thirds majority. Mrs May chose the second option, which was overwhelmingly backed by MPs, by 522 votes to 13.

How unusual is a ‘snap election’?

It depends how you define it, but if we’re talking about one that was called by a government with a majority in the Commons less than four years after the previous election, you have to go back to 1966 – in that case the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson wanted to increase the number of Labour MPs in Parliament and “a mandate to govern”.

In 1974 there were two elections eight months apart – but that was under different circumstances because no party won a majority in the Commons in the first one.

When will the general election after this one be held?

A 2017 general election means that the subsequent election is now due in 2022. That’s because the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which decrees that elections take place every five years, is still in force.

But an election could be held at any time if two-thirds of MPs vote for it, as they did this time. A future government could also decide to scrap the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

What are the key dates?

Parliament is expected to break up on 3 May to allow just over a month of full-pelt campaigning ahead of an election on Thursday, 8 June.

Are the local elections still going ahead?

Yes – voting will take place in 34 local council areas in England, all 32 councils in Scotland and all 22 councils in Wales on 4 May.

In addition, six areas in England are voting for newly-created “combined local authority mayors”.

The Manchester Gorton by-election, caused by the death of Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, had been due to take place on 4 May but will now be held at the same time as the general election on 8 June.

What does the general election mean for Brexit?

Britain is still on course to officially leave the European Union on Friday, 29 March 2019.

Negotiations with other EU nations are not due to start until June meaning the election will probably be over and a new government in place before any serious talking gets under way in Brussels.

The Conservative Party says this is a “one-off chance to hold an election while the European Union agrees its negotiating position”. If Mrs May wins by a big margin in the UK she will see it as a vote of confidence in her strategy for leaving the EU.

But if her slender House of Commons majority is cut further or she loses the election – with anti-Brexit parties such as the Liberal Democrats getting many more MPs – then the UK’s current Brexit strategy will be up for grabs.

Aren’t the polls always wrong?

The opinion polls were wrong about the 2015 general election and the industry has yet to fully fix the problems that caused those inaccuracies. So they should be taken with a pinch of salt. But the gap between Labour and the Conservatives in the polls leading up to the 2015 election was between 0% and 6%. The Conservatives have a much bigger lead than that now.

How would that translate into seats?

It’s not a straightforward process to work it out. Many Labour MPs have “safe” seats – they got thousands more votes than their nearest rivals in 2015, meaning they could lose votes and still retain their place in the Commons. The Conservatives have fewer “safe” seats than Labour. They pulled off their surprise 2015 general election victory by winning seats just where they needed them, such as in previously Liberal Democrat-held constituencies in the south-west of England.

The danger for Labour is that it piles up votes in seats it already holds – something that happened in 2015 – rather than in areas represented by rival parties. This makes it harder for it to suffer large-scale losses, but it also makes it relatively harder for it to get big gains.

Are there going to be any boundary changes in this election?

No. They were not due to be introduced until 2020. A public consultation is under way with final proposals set to made in 2018.

 

ELECTIONS

When will the candidates be announced?

If you want to stand as a candidate in the general election you have until 11 May to submit an application to your local returning officer together with a £500 deposit.

The main parties are in a race against time to get candidates in place and some have streamlined their normal selection procedures, with more candidates being chosen centrally.

Labour, the Conservatives, the SNP and the Lib Dems all say they hope to have completed their selections within the next week. Smaller parties may take longer.

When will the manifestos be published?

None of the major UK political parties contacted by the BBC was able to provide a firm date for the publication of its manifesto at this stage. The Liberal Democrats expect to be able to set a date within the next couple of weeks, while the BBC understands that the Labour manifesto will be finalised in the second week of May.

Before the last general election, in 2015, the major parties launched their manifestos within days of each other in mid-April, approximately three weeks before the country went to the polls on 7 May. If a similar timetable were to be adopted this year, manifestos could be expected in mid-May ahead of the election on 8 June.

Are any MPs standing down?

The former chancellor George Osborne is standing down after 16 years, saying he is leaving Westminster “for now”. He is taking on the role of editor at the Evening Standard. Another well-known name in British politics, Labour’s Alan Johnson, will also be retiring. So far 12 Labour MPs, four Conservatives and one Lib Dem have confirmed they are standing down.

They include:

  • Andrew Tyrie – Conservative (Chichester)
  • Gisela Stuart – Labour (Birmingham Edgbaston)
  • Tom Blenkinsop – Labour (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland)
  • Iain Wright – Labour (Hartlepool)
  • Pat Glass – Labour (North West Durham)
  • Simon Burns – Conservative (Chelmsford)
  • John Pugh – Lib Dem (Southport)
  • Andrew Smith – Labour (Oxford East)
  • Sir Gerald Howarth – Conservative (Aldershot)
  • John Pugh – Liberal Democrat (Southport)

Elections are also an opportunity for former MPs to get back into the Commons. Former Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable has said he plans to stand in the Twickenham seat he lost at the 2015 general election.

How do the parties currently stand?

The Conservatives have 330 seats, Labour 229, the SNP 54, the Lib Dems nine and Plaid Cymru three. The Green Party has one MP. UKIP have no MPs after their sole representative left the party and became an independent. For Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party have eight MPs, Sinn Fein, who don’t take up their seats, four, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) three and the Ulster Unionist Party two. Five MPs sit as independents.

Chart showing numbers of seats held by four biggest parties in Parliament

What does Labour say about the early election?

Leader Jeremy Corbyn has welcomed Mrs May’s announcement. He says it is a “chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first”. He has warned against believing the result is a “foregone conclusion”.

What about the Scottish National Party?

SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described Mrs May’s plans for a general election as a “huge political miscalculation” and said she would make “Scotland’s voice heard” in opposition to more cuts and the most extreme form of Brexit she claims Mrs May is seeking.

Where do the Lib Dems stand?

Leader Tim Farron says his party will be putting the UK’s membership of the EU single market “front and centre” of their general election campaign, and campaigning to “avoid a disastrous hard Brexit”.