2019 United Kingdom general election
The 2019 United Kingdom general election is scheduled to be held on Thursday 12 December 2019. It is to be held under the provisions of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019, two and a half years after the previous general election in June 2017.
All 650 seats in the House of Commons
326 seats needed for a majority
A map of UK parliamentary constituencies. * Figure does not include the former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, who was included in the Conservative seat total by some media outlets but is not seeking re-election. The current speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, is a former member of Labour, and is not included in their totals.
- 1 Background
- 2 Date of the election
- 3 Campaign
- 4 Contesting political parties and candidates
- 5 Religious groups' opinions on the parties
- 6 Endorsements
- 7 Media coverage
- 8 Expert manifesto analysis
- 9 Members of Parliament not standing for re-election
- 10 Opinion polling
- 11 Full results
- 12 See also
- 13 Footnotes
- 14 References
- 15 External links
The 2019 election is due to be the first UK general election to be held in December since 1923, and was arranged at short notice in late October. Each parliamentary constituency of the United Kingdom elects one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons using the first-past-the-post voting system. This indirectly elects the government, which is formed by a party or coalition of parties that can command the confidence of a majority of MPs in the Commons. Both majority and minority governments are possible election outcomes.
- on the Electoral Register;
- aged 18 or over on polling day;
- either a Commonwealth citizen (within the meaning of section 37 of the British Nationality Act 1981) or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland (section 1(c) of the Representation of the People Act 1983);
- resident at an address in the United Kingdom,[n 1] or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK at any time in the last 15 years.[n 2]
- Irish citizens who were born in Northern Ireland and qualify as British citizens, whether or not they identify themselves as such, may also be overseas voters
- not legally excluded from voting (most notably a convicted person detained in prison or a mental hospital, or unlawfully at large if the person would otherwise have been detained, or a person found guilty of certain corrupt or illegal practices) or disqualified from voting (peers sitting in the House of Lords).
Individuals must be registered to vote by midnight twelve working days before polling day. Anyone who qualifies as an anonymous elector has until midnight six working days before polling day to register.[n 3] A person who has two homes (such as a university student who has a term-time address and lives at home during holidays) may be able to register to vote at both addresses as long as they are not in the same electoral area, but can only vote in one constituency at the general election.
The election is to be contested under the same boundaries for 650 constituencies that have been used since the 2010 general election. The Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies, tasked by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 with reducing the number of constituencies to 600, proposed modified boundaries. These boundary changes are not due to be implemented until they have been approved by both Houses of Parliament, and the government did not submit the proposed changes for consideration before the election was called.
Postal and proxy votingEdit
Voters in Great Britain may freely apply to vote by post, and voters in Northern Ireland can vote by post if they give a reason they could not vote in person. Postal ballots need to reach the relevant Electoral Office by the time of the close of polls, or be handed into the voter's local polling station, in order to be counted. Voters may apply to allow another person to cast a proxy vote for them if they can give a valid reason why this is required.
Date of the electionEdit
This date occurred despite the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA), which introduced fixed-term parliaments to the United Kingdom, with elections scheduled on the first Thursday in May of the fifth year after the previous general election. This would have led to an election on 5 May 2022. On 29 October 2019, the House of Commons passed the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 which circumvented the FTPA so as to hold a December election. The House of Lords followed suit the following day, with Royal Assent the day afterward.
Due to the impasse about the Brexit withdrawal agreement, some political commentators in 2019 considered an early election to be highly likely. In January 2019 a vote of no confidence in Theresa May's government was called by the Labour Party. If passed, and no alternative government could be formed, this would have resulted in a general election, but this motion failed. After becoming Prime Minister in the summer, Boris Johnson made three attempts at a vote for an early general election under the terms of the FTPA, but each failed to achieve the required two-thirds supermajority. The eventually successful bill, which required only a simple majority to pass (though it could be amended during its passage through Parliament), was proposed by the Liberal Democrat and Scottish National parties on 28 October and adopted by the government the following day (albeit with a Thursday 12 December date rather than Monday 9 December proposed by the opposition parties). An amendment changing the date to 9 December failed by 315 votes to 295. The final Commons vote on the bill passed by 438 votes to 20.
The key dates are:
- Tuesday 29 October
- Passage of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 through the House of Commons
- Wednesday 30 October
- Passage of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 through the House of Lords
- Thursday 31 October
- Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 receives Royal Assent and comes into force immediately. The Act sets 12 December as the date for the next parliamentary general election.
- Wednesday 6 November
- Dissolution of Parliament (the 57th) and official start of the campaign. Beginning of purdah. Royal Proclamation summoning a new Parliament and setting the date for its first meeting issued.
- Thursday 7 November
- Receipt of writ – legal documents declaring election issued
- From Friday 8 November
- Notice of election given in constituencies
- Thursday 14 November
- Nominations of candidates close
- Saturday 16 November
- Candidates lists are published for each constituency
- Thursday 21 November
- Deadline to register for a postal vote at 5pm (Northern Ireland)
- Tuesday 26 November
- Deadline to register for a postal vote at 5pm (Great Britain)
- Deadline for registering to vote at 11:59pm
- Wednesday 4 December
- Deadline to register for a proxy vote at 5pm. (Exemptions apply for emergencies.)
- Thursday 12 December
- Polling Day – polls open 7am to 10pm
- Friday 13 December
- Results to be announced for the majority of the 650 constituencies. End of purdah.
- Tuesday 17 December
- First meeting of the new (58th) Parliament of the United Kingdom, for the formal election of a Speaker of the Commons and the swearing-in of members, ahead of the State Opening of the new Parliament's first session.
The Conservative Party and Labour Party have been the two biggest political parties, and have supplied every Prime Minister, since 1922. The Conservative Party have governed since the 2010 election, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats from 2010 to 2015. At the 2015 general election the Conservative Party committed to offering a referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union and won a majority in that election. A referendum was held in June 2016, and the Leave campaign won by 51.9% to 48.1%. The UK initiated the withdrawal process in March 2017, and Prime Minister Theresa May triggered a snap general election in 2017, in order to demonstrate support for her planned negotiation of Brexit. The Conservative Party won a plurality of MPs, but not a majority; they formed a minority government, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) as their confidence and supply partner. Neither May nor her successor Boris Johnson (winner of the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election) were able to secure parliamentary support either for a deal on the terms of the UK's exit from the EU, or for exiting the EU without an agreed deal. Johnson later succeeded in bringing his Withdrawal Agreement to a second reading in Parliament, following another extension until January 2020.
During the lifespan of the 2017 parliament, twenty MPs quit their parties, most due to disputes with their party leaderships; some formed new parties and alliances. In February 2019, eight Labour and three Conservative MPs resigned from their parties to sit together as The Independent Group. Having undergone a split and two name changes, at dissolution this group numbered five MPs who sat as the registered party The Independent Group for Change under the leadership of Anna Soubry. Two MPs sat in a group called The Independents (which at its peak had five members), one MP created the Birkenhead Social Justice Party, while a further 20 MPs who began as Labour or Conservative ended the Parliament as unaffiliated independents. Seven MPs, from both the Conservatives and Labour, joined the Liberal Democrats during the parliament, in combination with a by-election gain. The Lib Dems ultimately raised their number from 12 at the election to 20 at dissolution.
Part of the reason for the defections from the Labour Party were ongoing allegations of antisemitism and claims that Jeremy Corbyn and the party leadership had not done enough to tackle the problem. Labour entered the election campaign undergoing investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Jewish Labour Movement declared it would not generally campaign for Labour. The Conservative Party has also been criticised for not doing enough about alleged Islamophobia in the party.
As well due to defections, the Conservatives ended the previous parliamentary period with fewer seats than they had started with because they had expelled a number of MPs for going against the party line on a Brexit related vote. Ten of the 21 MPs expelled were subsequently reinstated, while others continued as independents.
The major parties have a wide variety of stances on Brexit. The Conservative Party support leaving under the terms of the withdrawal agreement as negotiated by Johnson (amending Theresa May's previous agreement), and this agreement forms a central part of the Conservative campaign. The Brexit Party are in favour of a "no-deal Brexit", with their leader Farage calling for Johnson to drop the deal.
The Labour Party position is that a Labour government would renegotiate the withdrawal agreement (towards a closer post-withdrawal association with the EU) and would then put this forward as an option in a referendum against remaining in the EU. The Labour Party's campaigning stance in that referendum would be decided at a special conference. In a Question Time special featuring four party leaders, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would stay neutral in the referendum campaign.
The Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party (SNP), Plaid Cymru, The Independent Group for Change, and the Green Party of England and Wales are all opposed to Brexit, and propose that a further referendum be held with the option – which they would campaign for – to remain in the EU. The Liberal Democrats originally pledged that if they won a majority government (considered a highly unlikely outcome by observers), they would revoke the Article 50 notification immediately and cancel Brexit. Part way through the campaign, the Liberal Democrats dropped the policy of revoking Article 50 after the party realised it was not going to win a majority in the election.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are in favour of a withdrawal agreement in principle and they oppose the deals negotiated by both May and Johnson, believing that they create too great a divide between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Alliance all favour remaining in the EU. The UUP do not see a second referendum as a necessary route to achieving this goal.
Tax and spending commitmentsEdit
The Conservative manifesto was uncosted. It was described as having "little in the way of changes to tax" by the IFS. The decision to keep the rate of corporation tax at 19%, and not reduce it to 17% as planned is expected to raise £6bn/year. The plan to increase the national insurance threshold for employees and self-employed to £9,500 will cost £2bn/year. They also committed to not raise rates of income tax, National Insurance or VAT. There are increased spending commitments of £3bn current spending and £8bn investment spending. This would overall lead to the UK's debt as a percentage of GDP remaining stable (the IFS assess it would rise in the event of a no deal Brexit).
The Labour manifesto has £78bn/year of tax rises over the course of the parliament including:
- £24bn – raising the headline rate of corporation tax to 26%
- £6.3bn – tax multinationals’ global profits according to UK share of global employment/assets/sales, not UK profits
- £4.0bn – abolish patent box & R&D tax credit for large companies
- £4.3bn – cutting unspecified corporation tax reliefs
- £9bn – financial transactions tax
- £14bn – dividends and capital gains
- £6bn – anti-avoidance
- £5bn – increases in income tax rates above £80,000/year
- £5bn – other
In addition Labour will get income from the Inclusive Ownership Fund, windfall tax on oil companies and some smaller tax changes. There are increased spending commitments of £98bn current spending and £55bn investment spending. This would overall lead to the UK's debt as a percentage of GDP rising, Labour's John McDonnell said borrowing would only be for investment and one offs (e.g. compensating WASPI women, not shown above), and not for day to day spending.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto has £36bn/year of tax rises over the course of the parliament including:
- £10bn – raising corporation tax to 20%
- £7bn – 1% point rise in all rates of income tax
- £5bn – abolish CGT allowance
- £5bn – air passenger duty on frequent flyers
- £6bn – anti-avoidance
- £3bn – other
There are increased commitments of £37bn current spending and £26bn investment spending, which would overall lead to the UK's debt as a percentage of GDP falling, partly due to improved economic conditions which would result from staying in the EU.
The Conservative Party proposed increasing spending on the NHS, although not as much of an increase as Labour and Liberal Democrat proposals. They also proposed increased funding for childcare and on the environment. They proposed more funding for care services and to work with other parties on reforming how care is delivered. They wish to maintain the "triple lock" on pensions. They proposed investing in local infrastructure, including building a new rail line between Leeds and Manchester.
Labour proposed significantly increasing government spending to 45% of national output which would be high compared to most of UK history, but is comparable with other European countries. This would pay for an increased NHS budget; stopping state pension age rises; introducing a National Care Service providing free personal care; move to a net-zero carbon economy by the 2030s; nationalising key industries; scrapping universal credit; free bus travel for under-25s; building 100,000 council houses per year; and other proposals. Within this, the Labour Party proposes to take rail-operating companies, energy supply networks, Royal Mail, sewerage and England’s private water companies back into public ownership. Labour proposed nationalising part of BT and providing free broadband to everyone. Labour is running for free education for six years. Over a decade, Labour plan to reduce the average full-time weekly working hours to 32, with resulting productivity increases facilitating no loss of pay.
The Liberal Democrats' main priority is opposing Brexit. Other policies include increased spending on the NHS; free childcare for two to four year olds; recruiting 20,000 more teachers; generating 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030; freezing train fares; and legalising cannabis.
The Brexit Party is also focused on Brexit. They oppose privatising the NHS. They seek to reduce immigration, cutting net migration to 50,000 per year; cutting VAT on domestic fuel; banning the exporting of waste; free broadband in deprived regions; scrapping the BBC license fee; and abolishing inheritance tax, interest on student loans, and HS2. They also want to move to a US-style Supreme Court.
The policies of the SNP included a second referendum on Scottish independence next year as well as one on Brexit, removing Trident, and devolution across issues such as employment law, drug policy, and migration.
Party positions in the event of a hung ParliamentEdit
The Conservatives and Labour both insisted they were on course for outright majorities, but smaller parties were quizzed about what they would do in the event of a hung Parliament. The Liberal Democrats said they would not actively support Johnson or Corbyn becoming Prime Minister, but that they could, if an alternative could not be achieved, abstain on votes allowing a minority government to form if there was support for a second referendum on Brexit. The SNP ruled out either supporting the Conservatives or a coalition with Labour, but spoke about a looser form of support, such as a confidence and supply arrangement with the latter, if they supported a second referendum on Scottish independence.
The DUP previously supported the Conservative government, but withdrew that support given their opposition to Johnson's proposed Brexit deal. They said they would never support Corbyn as Prime Minister, but could work with Labour if led by someone else. The UUP has also said they would never support Corbyn as Prime Minister, with their leader Steve Aiken saying he "can't really see" any situation in which they would support a Conservative government either. Their focus would be on remaining in the EU.
Under the first-past-the-post electoral system, voter turn-out (especially in marginal seats) has a crucial impact on the final election outcome, so major political parties disproportionately focus on opinion poll trends and these constituencies. In the early stages of the campaign, there was considerable discussion of tactical voting (generally in the context of support or opposition to Brexit) and whether parties would stand in all seats or not. There were various electoral pacts and unilateral decisions. The Brexit Party chose not to stand against sitting Conservative candidates, but stood in most other constituencies. The Brexit Party alleged that pressure was put on their candidates by the Conservatives to withdraw, including the offer of peerages, which would be illegal. This was denied by the Conservative Party. Under the banner of Unite to Remain, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party of England and Wales agreed an electoral pact in some seats, but some commentators criticised the Liberal Democrats for not standing down in some Labour seats.
A number of tactical voting websites were set up in an attempt to help voters choose the candidate in their constituency who would be best placed to beat the Conservative one. The websites did not always give the same advice, which Michael Savage, political editor the The Guardian said had the potential to confuse voters. One of the websites - GetVoting, set up by Best for Britain - was accused of giving bogus advice in Labour/Conservative marginal seats. The website, which had links to the Liberal Democrat party, was criticised for advising pro-remain voters to back the Liberal Democrats when doing so risked pulling voters away from Labour candidates and enabling the Conservative candidate to gain most votes. Further into the election period, tactical voting websites changed their recommendations because of new data.
In the final weekend before voting, the centre-left Guardian newspaper cited a poll suggesting that the Conservative party held a 15% lead over Labour, while on the same day, the Conservative-backing Daily Telegraph emphasised a poll indicating only an 8% lead. Senior opposition politicians from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP launched a late-stage appeal to anti-Conservative voters to consider switching allegiance in the general election, amid signs that tactical voting in a relatively small number of marginal seats could deprive Johnson of a majority in parliament.
Canvassing and leafletingEdit
At the start of the election period, Labour supporting organisation Momentum held what was described as "the largest mobilising call in UK history", involving more than 2,000 canvassers. The organisation challenged Labour supporters to devote a week or more to campaigning full-time (as of 4 December, 1,400 people had signed up). Momentum also developed an app called My Campaign Map that updated members where they could be more effective, particularly in canvassing in marginal constituencies. Over one weekend during the campaign period, 700 Labour supporters campaigned in Iain Duncan Smith's constituency, Chingford and Woodford Green, which is regarded as a marginal, with a majority of 2,438 votes at the last election.
The practice of making campaign leaflets look like newspapers has been used by all major British political parties for many years. In 2019, accusations that systemic attempts to mislead voters by using selective polling data were often directed at the Liberal Democrats, although "local Labour and Conservative candidates also [had taken] the same approach during this election." Among other accusations against the Liberal Democrats was the use of a quotation attributed to The Guardian newspaper rather than to their leader, Jo Swinson.
The use of social media advertising is seen as particularly useful to political parties as they can target people by gender, age, and location. Labour is reported to have the most interactions, with The Times describing Labour's "aggressive, anti-establishment messages" as "beating clever Tory memes". In the first week of November, Labour is reported to have four of the five most "liked" tweets by political parties, many of the top interactions of Facebook posts, as well as being "dominant" on Instagram, where younger voters are particularly active. Bloomberg reported that between 6–21 November the views on Twitter/Facebook were 18.7m/31.0m for Labour, 10m/15.5m for the Conservatives, 2.9m/2.0m for the Brexit Party, and 0.4m/1.4m for the Liberal Democrats.
Prior to the campaign, the Conservatives contracted New Zealand marketing agency Topham Guerin, which has been credited with helping Australia’s Liberal–National Coalition unexpectedly win the 2019 Australian federal election. Their social media approach is described as purposefully posting badly-designed social media material, which becomes viral and so is seen by a wider audience. Some of the Conservative social media activity has created headlines challenging whether it is deceptive. This included editing a clip of Keir Starmer to appear he was unable to answer a question about Labour's Brexit policy. In response to criticism over the doctored Starmer footage, Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said the clip of Starmer was satire and “obviously edited”.
During the 19 November debate between Johnson and Corbyn hosted by ITV, the press office of the Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) re-branded their Twitter account (@CCHQPress) as 'factcheckUK' (with "from CCHQ" in small text appearing underneath the logo in the account's banner image), which critics suggest could be mistaken for that of an independent fact-checking body, and published posts supporting the Conservative's position. In defence, Conservative chairman Cleverly stated that "The Twitter handle of the CCHQ press office remained CCHQPress, so it's clear the nature of the site.", and as "calling out when the Labour Party put what they know to be complete fabrications in the public domain". In response to the re-branding on Twitter, the Electional Commission, which does not have a role in regulating election campaign content, called on all campaigners to act "responsibly", fact-checking body Full Fact criticised this behaviour as "inappropriate and misleading", and Twitter stated that they would take "decisive corrective action" if there were "further attempts to mislead people". On 6 December, the Conservatives were called out for creating a fake website called margaretbeckett.com, named after Labour's longest-serving female MP. The website reads "Don't Vote Labour" and attacks her voting record.
|← 2017 debates||2019|
ITV hosted a head-to-head election debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on 19 November, hosted by Julie Etchingham. The broadcaster is also planning another debate in which the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Brexit Party, the Greens, and Plaid Cymru (in addition to Labour and the Conservatives) would be able to participate. Separate debates in Northern Ireland are also planned. STV are planning to hold a debate in Scotland. ITV Cymru Wales aired a debate featuring representatives from the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Brexit Party on 17 November, hosted by Adrian Masters. Johnson cancelled his ITV interview with Etchingham, scheduled for 6 December and the other major party leaders agreed to be interviewed.
On the BBC, broadcaster Andrew Neil was due to separately interview party leaders in The Andrew Neil Interviews, and BBC Northern Ireland journalist Mark Carruthers to separately interview the five main Northern Irish political leaders on The View with Mark Carruthers. The leaders of the SNP, Labour, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party were all interviewed by Andrews, while Johnson has yet to commit, leading Neil to release a challenge to Johnson to be interviewed. The Conservatives dismissed Neil's challenge. The BBC is also holding a variety of election debates, beginning with a special Question Time episode featuring Nigel Farage on 18 November, followed by another one featuring Johnson, Corbyn, Jo Swinson and Nicola Sturgeon on 22 November, and finally a head-to-head debate between Johnson and Corbyn on 6 December. BBC Scotland, BBC Wales and BBC Northern Ireland also plan on hosting a variety of regional debates.
Channel 4 cancelled a debate scheduled for 24 November after Johnson would not agree to the head-to-head with Corbyn. A few days later, the network hosted a leaders debate focused on the climate. Johnson and Farage refused to attend and were replaced on stage by ice sculptures with their party names written on them. The Conservatives alleged this was part of a pattern of bias at the channel, complained to Ofcom that Channel 4 had breached due impartiality rules, and threatened to revoke the channel's broadcasting licence over the incident. Ofcom rejected the Conservative's complaint.
Sky News was due to hold a three-way election debate on 28 November, inviting Johnson, Corbyn and Swinson. Swinson confirmed she would attend the debate, but it was later cancelled after agreements could not be made with Corbyn or Johnson.
|2019 United Kingdom general election debates|
|P Present S Standing-in NI Not invited A Absent I Invited N No debate|
|17 November||ITV Cymru Wales||ITV Wales Studios, Cardiff||Wales||0.28||S
|19 November||ITV||Dock10, Salford||UK||7.34||P
|Octagon Centre, Sheffield||UK||4.62||P
|26 November||BBC Wales
|28 November||Channel 4
(climate and nature)
|ITN Headquarters, London||UK||TBA||A[a]||P
|29 November||BBC||Senedd, Cardiff||UK||TBA||S
|1 December||ITV||Dock10, Salford||UK||TBA||S
|3 December||BBC Wales||Wrexham Glyndŵr University, Wrexham||Wales||TBA||S
|3 December||STV||STV Pacific Quay, Glasgow||Scotland||TBA||P
|6 December||BBC||Maidstone Studios, Maidstone||UK||4.42||P
|8 December||Channel 4
(everything but Brexit)
|8 December||UTV||Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast||Northern Ireland||TBA||NI||NI||NI||NI||NI||NI||P
(Question Time Under 30)
|10 December||BBC Northern Ireland||TBA||Northern Ireland||TBA||TBC|
|10 December||BBC Scotland||BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow||Scotland||TBA||I
- Channel 4 described this as a leaders-only debate and refused to accept non-leaders as alternatives.
|Poll source||Sample size||Johnson||Corbyn||Lead|
|ITV: Johnson vs. Corbyn|
|19 November 2019||YouGov||1,646||51%||49%||2%|
|BBC: Johnson vs. Corbyn|
|6 December 2019||YouGov||1,322||52%||48%||4%|
Before candidate nominations closed, several planned candidates for Labour and for the Conservatives withdrew, principally because of past social media activity. At least three Labour candidates and one Conservative candidate stood down, with two of the Labour candidates doing so following allegedly anti-Semitic remarks. Two other Conservative candidates were suspended from the Conservative party over antisemitic social media posts, but retained their candidacy for the party. The Liberal Democrats removed one of its candidates over antisemitic social media posts, and defended two others.
Several former Labour MPs critical of Corbyn endorsed the Conservatives. Meanwhile, several former Conservative MPs endorsed the Liberal Democrats and/or independent candidates, including the former deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine. A week prior to election day, former Conservative prime minister John Major warned the public against enabling a majority Conservative government to avoid what he saw as the damage a Johnson-led government could do to the country through Brexit. Major encouraged voters to vote tactically and to back former Conservative candidates instead of those put forward by the Conservative party.
On 6 December, Labour announced it had hold of leaked government documents which they said showed that Johnson had mislead the public about the Conservatives' Brexit deal with the EU - specifically, regarding custom checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which Johnson had said would not exist.
Contesting political parties and candidatesEdit
Most candidates are representatives of a political party, which must be registered with the Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties. Candidates who do not belong to a registered party can use an "independent" label, or no label at all. Across the United Kingdom, there are 3,415 candidates representing 68 political parties, including 206 independent candidates.
Major parties (parties with multiple MPs at dissolution or those that currently have multiple MEPs) that are contesting this election in Great Britain are shown in the table below with their results at the 2017 general election, ordered by the number of seats they won.
|Party||Party leader(s)||Leader since||Leader's seat||Last election||Seats at
|Conservative Party||Boris Johnson||July 2019||Uxbridge & South Ruislip||42.4%||317||298||635 seats in the United Kingdom|
|Labour Party||Jeremy Corbyn||September 2015||Islington North||40.0%||262||244||631 seats in Great Britain|
|Scottish National Party||Nicola Sturgeon||November 2014||None[n 4]||3.0%||35||35||59 seats in Scotland|
|Liberal Democrats||Jo Swinson||July 2019||East Dunbartonshire||7.4%||12||21||611 seats in Great Britain|
|Change UK||Anna Soubry||June 2019||Broxtowe||New party||5||3 seats in England|
|Plaid Cymru||Adam Price||September 2018||None[n 5]||0.5%||4||4||36 seats in Wales|
|Green Party of England and Wales||Jonathan Bartley||September 2016||None[n 6]||1.6%||1||1||474 seats in England and Wales|
|Siân Berry||September 2018|
|Brexit Party||Nigel Farage||March 2019||None[n 7]||New party||0||276 seats in Great Britain|
As outlined above, the Conservative Party have governed in coalition or on their own since 2010, and have been led by Boris Johnson since July 2019. Jeremy Corbyn has been Labour Party leader since 2015 and as such becomes the first Labour leader to contest consecutive general elections since Tony Blair, as well as the first to contest a second general election after having not won one since Neil Kinnock. One other party, the Liberal Democrats, is contesting seats across Great Britain. They were led by Tim Farron at the 2017 election, before he was replaced by Vince Cable. Cable was succeeded by Jo Swinson in July 2019. The Brexit Party are contesting somewhat under half the seats. They were founded in early 2019 by Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and won the most votes at the May 2019 European Parliament elections. The Brexit Party have largely replaced UKIP in British politics, with UKIP (which gained 12.6% of the vote but just one MP at the 2015 election) losing almost all its support. UKIP are standing in 42 seats in Great Britain and two seats in Northern Ireland.
The Green Party of England and Wales have been led by Jonathan Bartley and Siân Berry since 2018, with their counterparts the Scottish Green Party standing in Scottish seats. The two parties are standing in a total of 495 seats. The third-largest party in seats won at the 2017 election was the Scottish National Party, led by Nicola Sturgeon since 2014, who stand only in Scotland but hold the majority (35 of 59) of seats there. Similarly, Plaid Cymru, led by Adam Price, stand only in Wales where they hold 4 of 40 seats.
While a number of UK parties organise in Northern Ireland (including the Labour Party, which does not field candidates) and others field candidates for election (most notably the Conservatives), the main Northern Ireland parties are different from those in the rest of the UK.
Some parties in Northern Ireland operate on an all-Ireland basis, including Sinn Féin and Aontú, who are abstensionist parties and do not take up any Commons seats to which they are elected. The only independent elected to Parliament in 2017, Sylvia Hermon, represented North Down but is not standing in 2019.
For the 2019 election, there are a total of 102 candidates in Northern Ireland.
|Last election||Seats at
18 in total)
|Democratic Unionist Party||Arlene Foster||December 2015||None[n 8]||36.0%||10||10||17 seats|
|Sinn Féin||Mary Lou McDonald||February 2018||None[n 9]||29.4%||7||7||15 seats|
|Social Democratic & Labour Party||Colum Eastwood||November 2015||None[n 10]||11.7%||0||0||15 seats|
|Ulster Unionist Party||Steve Aiken||November 2019||None[n 11]||10.3%||0||0||16 seats|
|Alliance Party||Naomi Long||October 2016||None[n 12]||7.9%||0||0||18 seats|
|Aontú||Peadar Tóibín||28 January 2019||None[n 13]||New party||0||7 seats|
|NI Conservatives||Neil Johnston
(Leader in NI)
|February 2019||None||0.7%||0||0||4 seats|
|Green Party of Northern Ireland||Clare Bailey||21 November 2018||None[n 14]||0.9%||0||0||3 seats|
|People Before Profit||None[n 15]||N/A||None[n 15]||0.4%||0||0||2 seats|
In addition, UKIP, a party that normally only stands for election in Great Britain, is standing candidates in two constituencies; it had no NI candidates in 2017.
Electoral pacts and unilateral decisionsEdit
In England and Wales, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party of England and Wales – parties sharing an anti-Brexit position – have arranged a "Unite to Remain" pact. Labour declined to be involved. This agreement means that in 60 constituencies only one of these parties, the one considered to have the best chance of winning, will stand. This pact aims to maximise the total number of anti-Brexit MPs returned under the first-past-the-post system by avoiding the spoiler effect.
In addition, the Liberal Democrats are not running against Dominic Grieve (independent, formerly Conservative), Gavin Shuker (independent, formerly Labour), and Anna Soubry (The Independent Group for Change, formerly Conservative).
The Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had suggested the Brexit and Conservative parties could form an electoral pact to maximise the seats taken by Brexit-supporting MPs, but this was rejected by Johnson. On 11 November, Farage announced that his party would not stand in any of the 317 seats won by the Conservatives at the last election. This was welcomed by the Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly, and he insisted there had been no contact between them and the Brexit Party over the plan. Newsnight reported that conversations between members of the Brexit Party and the Conservative, pro-Brexit research support group European Research Group (ERG) led to this decision. The Brexit Party reportedly requested that Johnson publicly state he would not extend the Brexit transition period beyond the planned end of December 2020 date and that he wished for a Canada-style free trade agreement with the EU. Johnson did make a statement covering these two issues, something which Farage referenced as key when announcing he was standing down some candidates. Both the Brexit Party and the Conservatives deny any deal was done between the two.
The Green Party are also not standing in two Conservative-held seats, Chingford and Woodford Green and Calder Valley, in favour of Labour. The Green Party had also unsuccessfully attempted to form a progressive alliance with the Labour Party prior to Unite to Remain. The Women's Equality Party have stood aside in three seats in favour of the Liberal Democrats, after the LibDems adopted some of their policies.
The DUP is not contesting Fermanagh and South Tyrone and the UUP is not contesting Belfast North so as not to split the unionist vote. Other parties are standing down in selected seats so as not to split the anti-Brexit vote. The nationalist and anti-Brexit parties the SDLP and Sinn Féin have agreed a pact whereby the SDLP is not standing in Belfast North (in favour of Sinn Féin), while Sinn Féin is not standing in Belfast South (in favour of SDLP); neither party is standing in Belfast East or North Down and advising their supporters to vote Alliance in those two constituencies. The Green Party in Northern Ireland is not standing in any of the four Belfast constituencies, backing the SDLP in Belfast South, Sinn Féin in Belfast North and West, and Alliance in Belfast East and North Down; the party is standing only in the safe seats of East Antrim, Strangford and West Tyrone. Alliance are not standing down in any seats, describing the plans as "sectarian".
At the 2017 election, more than 1 in 8 seats were won by a margin of 5% or less of votes, whilst almost 1 in 4 were won by 10% or less. These seats are seen as crucial in deciding the election.
2017–19 MPs standing under a different political affiliationEdit
The following MPs elected in 2017 are contesting the 2019 election for a different party or as an independent candidate, with a number of these moving to different constituencies.
Withdrawn or disowned candidatesEdit
The following candidates withdrew from campaigning or had support from their party withdrawn after the close of nominations and so will remain on the ballot paper in their constituency.
|Candidate||Party||Constituency||Reason for withdrawal||Date|
|Safia Ali||Labour||Falkirk||Prior antisemitic posts on Facebook||28 November|
|Amjad Bashir||Conservative||Leeds North East||Comments made in 2014 widely perceived as antisemitic||20 November|
|Sophie Cook||Independent||East Worthing and Shoreham||Reported experience of abuse and harassment||19 November|
|Victor Farrell||Brexit Party||Glenrothes||Homophobic comments in 2017||18 November|
|Neale Hanvey||SNP||Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath||Allegations of antisemitism in a 2016 Facebook post||28 November|
|Ryan Houghton||Conservative||Aberdeen North||Antisemitic, Islamophobic and homophobic tweets in 2012||19 November|
|Ivan Lewis||Independent||Bury South||Urged voters to vote Conservative||4 December|
|Ben Mathis||Liberal Democrats||Hackney North and Stoke Newington||Offensive tweets up to 2018||24 November|
|Waheed Rafiq||Liberal Democrats||Birmingham, Hodge Hill||Antisemitic comments up to 2014||20 November|
|Flora Scarabello||Conservative||Glasgow Central||Anti-Muslim comments||27 November|
Religious groups' opinions on the partiesEdit
Religious leaders and organisations made statements about the general election, with some people within the religious groups being keen to express that no one person or organisation represents the views of all the members of the faith. Leaders of the Church of England stated people had a "democratic duty to vote", that they should "leave their echo chambers", and "issues need to be debated respectfully, and without resorting to personal abuse".
Antisemitism in the Labour Party has been persistently covered in the media in the lead up to the election. In his leaders interview with Jeremy Corbyn, Andrew Neil dedicated the first third of the 30-minute programme entirely to discussion of Labour’s relationship with the Jewish community. This was partly prompted by Ephraim Mirvis, the UK’s chief rabbi, who represents Orthodox Judaism, accusing Corbyn of allowing a "poison sanctioned from the top" to take root in Labour, and that British Jews were gripped by anxiety about the prospect of a Corbyn-led government. The largest Jewish Labour group, JLM, have said they will not be actively campaigning locally for Labour unless there were exceptional circumstances. Jewish Voice for Labour group, formed in 2017, released a statement accusing Rabbi Mirvis of making unfounded allegations against Corbyn, saying that he personally supports the Conservative Party.
The Muslim Council of Britain spokesman stated Islamophobia "is particularly acute in the Conservative Party" and they treat it "with denial, dismissal and deceit". In addition they released as 72 page document, outlining what they assess are the key issues from a British Muslim perspective. All 26 constituencies with a Muslim population above 20% voted for a Labour candidate in 2017. The MCB specifically criticises those who "seek to stigmatise and undermine Muslims"; for example, by inferring that Pakistanis ("often used as a proxy for Muslims") "votes en bloc as directed by Imams".
The Hindu Council UK has been strongly critical of Labour condemnation of the Indian government's actions in the disputed territory of Kashmir. They go as far as to say Labour are "increasing[ly] anti-Hindu". The Times of India reported that supporters of Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were actively campaigning for the Tories in 48 marginal seats, and The Today Programme reported it had seen WhatsApp messages sent to Hindus across the country urging them to vote Conservative. Some British Indians spoke out against what they saw as the BJP's meddling in the UK election. The perceived "parachuting" of a Labour candidate into Leicester East, a constituency with one of the highest Indian populations in the UK, caused anger to be felt amongst the local British Indian community, as no candidates of Indian descent were interviewed. The party has selected a single candidate of Indian descent to contest one of the party's 39 safest seats.
Newspapers, organisations and individuals have endorsed parties or individual candidates for the election.
According to Loughborough University's Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC), media coverage of the first week of the campaign was dominated by the Conservatives and Labour, with the leaders of both parties being the most represented campaigners (Johnson with 20.8%; Corbyn with 18.8%). Due to this, the election coverage has been characterised as increasingly 'presidential' as smaller parties have been marginalised. In television coverage, Boris Johnson had a particularly high profile (30.4% against Corbyn's 22.6%). Labour (32%) and the Conservative Party (33%) received about a third of TV coverage each. In newspapers, Labour received two-fifths (40%) of the coverage and the Conservatives 35%. Spokespeople from both parties were quoted near equally, with Conservative sources being the most prominent in both press and TV coverage in terms of frequency of appearance. Sajid Javid and John McDonnell featured prominently during the first week because the economy was a top story for the media. McDonnell had more coverage than Javid on both TV and in print. A large proportion of the newspaper coverage of Labour was negative. Researches from the CRCC commented that this indicated the press was partisan and were "pulling out all the stops against Labour". In the Loughborough analysis, the Conservatives had a positive press coverage score of +29.7, making them the only party to receive a positive overall presentation in the press. Labour, meanwhile, had a negative score of -70, followed by the Brexit Party on -19.7 and the Liberal Democrats on -10.
The Liberal Democrats were the party with the most TV coverage in the first week after Labour and the Conservatives with an eighth of all reporting (13%). In newspapers they received less coverage than the Brexit Party, whose leader Nigel Farage received nearly as much coverage (12.3%) as Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn (17.4% each). Most of this coverage regarded the Brexit Party's electoral pact with the Conservatives. The Brexit Party (7%) and the SNP (5%) were fourth and fifth in terms of TV coverage, respectively.
As with previous election periods, the top issue for the media in the first week was the electoral process, with its 'the drama, rituals and uncertainties' (40.4% of coverage). This was followed by the policy-orientated issues of Brexit (16.3%), the economy (8.7%) and health (4.7%). On TV, the environment (6.5%) featured more that health (4.7%) - mostly due to discussion of the adequacy of politicians responses to flooding across the country -, as did devolution (6.1%). In the newspapers, the military (4.4%) featured more than the environment (1.9%) and nearly as much as health (4.7%). Within the coverage of the electoral process, prominence was given to tactical voting and party pacts (26.8%), followed by internal party divisions (15.8%) and discussion about 'manipulation, disinformation, and other threats to electoral integrity' (8%). The latter was mostly concerned with Johnson's decision to delay until after the election publication of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee report on Russian activity in UK democracy.
Of the 20 most prominent spokespeople in media coverage of the first week of the election period, five were women, with SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the most featured (seventh most prominent individual overall, behind former Labour MP, Ian Austin, who urged voters to vote for the Conservatives). Women (including, e.g., citizens, experts, pollsters, businesspeople, trade union representatives, etc.) featured in 23.9% of coverage and men in 76.1%. Men spoke three times as much as women in TV coverage, and five times as much in newspaper coverage.
Expert manifesto analysisEdit
Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS)Edit
On 28 November the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), an influential research body, released their in-depth analysis of the manifestos of the three main national political parties. The analysis both provides a summary of the financial promises made by each party, and an inspection of the accuracy of claims around government income and expenditure.
Their analysis of the Conservative manifesto concluded there was "essentially nothing new in the manifesto", that there was "little in the way of changes to tax, spending, welfare or anything else", and that they had already promised increased spending for health and education whilst in government. The Labour manifesto was described as introducing "enormous economic and social change", and increasing the role of the state to be bigger than anything in the last 40 years. They highlight a raft of changes in including free childcare, university, personal care and prescriptions, as well nationalisations, labour market regulations, increases in the minimum wage, and enforcing "effective ownership of 10% of large companies from current owners to a combination of employees and government". Labour's vision, the IFS said, "is of a state not so dissimilar to those seen in many other successful Western European economies" and presumed that the manifesto should be seen as "a long-term prospectus for change rather than a realistic deliverable plan for a five-year parliament". They said the Liberal Democrat manifesto is not as radical as the Labour manifesto and a "decisive move away from the policies of the past decade". The IFS described the figures stated in neither the Conservative or Labour manifesto as a "properly credible prospectus".
The Conservative manifesto was criticised for a commitment to not raise rates of income tax, NICs or VAT as this put a significant constraint to react events that might affect government finances. One such event could be the "die in a ditch" promise to terminate the Brexit transition period by the end of 2020, which risked harming the economy.. The also state that it is "highly likely" spending would be higher than in their manifesto, partly due to a number of uncosted commitments. Outside of commitments to the NHS, the proposals would leave public service spending 14% lower in 2023–2024 than it was in 2010–2011, which the IFS described as "no more austerity perhaps, but an awful lot of it baked in".
The IFS stated they had "serious doubt" that tax rises proposed would raise the amount Labour suggested, and that they would need to introduce more broad based tax increases. They assess that the public sector does not have the capacity to increase investment spending as Labour would want. The IFS assesses the claim that tax rises will only hit the top 5% of earners, as "certainly progressive", but "clearly not true", with those under that threshold impacted by changes to the marriage allowance, taxes on dividends or capital gains, and lower wages/higher prices that might be passed on from corporation tax changes. Some of Labour's proposals are described as "huge and complex undertakings", where significant care is required in implementation. The IFS is particularly critical of the policy to compensate the so-called "WASPI women", announced after the manifesto, which is a £58bn promise to women who are "relatively well off on average" and will result in public finances going off target. They said that Labour's manifesto would not increase UK public spending as a share of national income above Germany. They found that Labour's plan to spend and invest would boost economic growth, but the impact of tax rises, government regulation, nationalisations and the inclusive ownership fund could reduce growth, meaning the overall impact of Labour's plan on growth is uncertain.
The IFS described the Liberal Democrats' plans as a "radical" tax and spend package, but that the proposals would require lower borrowing than Conservative or Labour plans. The report said they were the only party whose proposals would put debt "on a decisively downward path", praising their plan to put 1p on income tax to go to the NHS as "simple, progressive and would raise a secure level of revenue". The IFS also described plans to "virtually quintuple" current spending levels on universal free childcare amounted to "creating a whole new leg of the universal welfare state".
The IFS said that the SNP's manifesto was not costed. Their proposals on spending increases and tax cuts would mean the UK government would have to borrow to cover day-to-day spending. They conclude that the SNP's plans for Scottish independence would likely require increased austerity.
Members of Parliament not standing for re-electionEdit
The chart below depicts the results of opinion polls, mostly only of voters in Great Britain, conducted from the 2017 United Kingdom general election until the present. The line plotted is the average of the last 15 polls.
Predictions three weeks before the voteEdit
The first-past-the-post system used in UK general elections means that the number of seats won is not directly related to vote share. Thus, several approaches are used to convert polling data and other information into seat predictions. The table below lists some of the predictions.
as of 20 November 2019
as of 17 November 2019
as of 20 November 2019
as of 20 November 2019
|Overall result (probability)||Conservative
80 seat majority
42 seat majority
58 seat majority
42 seat majority
Predictions two weeks before the voteEdit
as of 27 November 2019
as of 28 November 2019
|Elections etc 
as of 27 November 2019
as of 27 November 2019
34 seat majority
26 seat majority
56 seat majority
68 seat majority
Note: Elections etc does not add up to 650 seats due to rounding; the Speaker is shown under "Others" and not "Labour"; majority figures assume all elected members take up their seats.
Predictions one week before the voteEdit
Prediction based upon polls:
as of 8 December 2019
as of 6 December 2019
as of 5 December 2019
as of 8 December 2019
46 seat majority
40 seat majority
42 seat majority
60 seat majority
Note: Elections etc does not add up to 650 seats due to rounding; the Speaker is shown under "Others" and not "Labour"; majority figures assume all elected members take up their seats.
Prediction based upon betting odds (assuming the favourite wins in each constituency):
|Too close to call||3|
|Overall result||Conservative |
52 seat majority
Note: The Speaker is shown under "Others" and not "Labour"; majority figures assume all elected members take up their seats.
- Persons without a permanent or fixed address can make a "Declaration of local connection" to a particular location in order to register
- Or, in the case of a British citizen who moved abroad before the age of 18, if his/her parent/guardian was on the Electoral Register in the UK in the last 15 years
- The deadline for the receipt and determination of anonymous electoral registration applications is one working day before the publication date of the notice of alteration to the Electoral Register (that is the sixth working day before polling day).
- Nicola Sturgeon sits as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Southside. Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber leads the SNP in the British House of Commons.
- Adam Price sits as an AM in the Welsh Assembly for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. The party's leader in the Commons is Liz Saville Roberts, the MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd.
- Bartley sits as a councillor on Lambeth Council while Berry sits on the London Assembly. The party's sole member in the Commons is Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and two-time former party leader.
- Farage sits as an MEP in the European Parliament for South East England. The party has no MPs in the House of Commons.
- Arlene Foster sat as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for Fermanagh and South Tyrone prior to the collapse of the Assembly. The party's leader in the Commons is Nigel Dodds, the MP for Belfast North.
- Mary Lou McDonald sits as a TD in Dáil Éireann for Dublin Central. Sinn Féin adopts an abstentionist policy at Westminster, and none of its seven MP's has taken their seat.
- Colum Eastwood sat as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for Foyle prior to the collapse of the Assembly. Eastwood is contesting the general election for the conterminous UK parliamentary seat.
- .Leader of the party is Steve Aiken OBE, who sat as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for South Antrim prior to the collapse of the Assembly.
- Naomi Long sits as an MEP in the European Parliament for Northern Ireland.
- Peadar Tóibín sits as a TD in the Dáil Éireann for Meath West.
- Clare Bailey sits as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for Belfast South.
- People Before Profit uses a collective leadership model. Eamonn McCann is listed as the party's leader for the purposes of registration to the UK Electoral Commission.
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