Boris Johnson has marked his first year in office, after winning the leadership of the Conservative Party in July 2019 and achieving a landslide victory in the general election in December. However, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the election of Keir Starmer as Labour leader has dented his support in the polls.
The next election is not due to take place until May 2 2024, but this could change as the government plans to scrap the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, which would allow them to call an election at a time of their choosing. So what would happen if a general election was held today?
Based on current polling, the Conservatives would remain the largest party with their vote share slightly down on last year’s general election. Labour would see their vote share increase by close to six percent, whilst the Liberal Democrats would see their support shrink by more than a third.
So how might such a result translate into seats at a general election?
Based on Flavible’s constituency model, such a result would leave the Conservatives as the largest party but short of an overall majority by 13 seats. Labour, meanwhile, would win 250 seats – a gain of almost 50. Such an outcome would be similar to that achieved under Gordon Brown, when the party won 258 seats to the Conservatives’ 306.
Many of the gains made by Labour in this scenario include those lost by the party in the 2019 general election, including Darlington, High Peak, Kensington, Stroud, Stoke-on-Trent Central, Clwyd South, Workington, Wrexham, Peterborough and Gedling, as well as others like Watford, Vale of Glamorgan, and Chingford and Woodford Green – the constituency of former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith. However, several seats that Labour lost at the last election would remain in Tory hands, particularly Bishop Auckland, Redcar, Great Grimsby, Penistone and Stocksbridge, and Sedgefield – the former constituency of Tony Blair.
In Scotland, the SNP would gain all but one seat, with Labour holding onto its only seat.
The Liberal Democrats would lose five of the 11 seats won in 2019, including all of their seats in Scotland. Plaid Cymru and the Green Party would make no further gains.
In such a situation, the Conservatives may push for another confidence and supply arrangement with unionist parties in Northern Ireland, but this could leave them short of the 326 seats they would need. Labour would also face some difficulty reaching the threshold needed to get into Number 10; an agreement with the SNP would take them to only 308, with the addition of the six Liberal Democrat MPs still leaving them 12 seats short. Even a ‘rainbow’ arrangement with all ‘progressive’ parties, including the SDLP and the Alliance, would leave Labour with only 322 seats. In such a situation, either a minority government would have to be formed or another election could result.
This projection should be taken with a pinch of salt, however, as boundary changes are due to be completed by the next general election, which may vary how many seats each party would win.