2019 United Kingdom general election

The 2019 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 12 December 2019 under the provisions of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 (EPGEA), two-and-a-half years after the previous general election in 2017. The governing Conservative Party achieved a landslide majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons after having lost it in 2017, while the Labour Party suffered major losses that resulted in it obtaining its lowest proportion of seats since the 1935 general election.[2][3]

2019 United Kingdom general election

12 December 2019

All 650 seats in the House of Commons
326[n 1] seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout67.3% ( 1.5 pp) [1]
  First party Second party
 
Leader Boris Johnson Jeremy Corbyn
Party Conservative Labour
Leader since 23 July 2019 12 September 2015
Leader's seat Uxbridge and South Ruislip Islington North
Last election 317 seats, 42.4% 262 seats, 40.0%
Seats won 365 202[n 2]
Seat change 48 60
Popular vote 13,966,565 10,269,076
Percentage 43.6% 32.1%
Swing 1.2 pp 7.9 pp

  Third party Fourth party
 
Leader Nicola Sturgeon Jo Swinson
Party SNP Liberal Democrats
Leader since 14 November 2014 22 July 2019
Leader's seat Did not stand[n 3] East Dunbartonshire
(defeated)
Last election 35 seats, 3.0% 12 seats, 7.4%
Seats won 48[n 4] 11
Seat change 13 1
Popular vote 1,242,372 3,696,423
Percentage 3.9% 11.6%
Swing 0.9 pp 4.2 pp

A map presenting the results of the election, by party of the MP elected from each constituency.

Prime Minister before election

Boris Johnson
Conservative

Prime Minister after election

Boris Johnson
Conservative

The Conservative Party, having failed to obtain a majority in the 2017 general election, had faced a prolonged parliamentary deadlock over Brexit while it governed in minority with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). In July 2019, Boris Johnson was elected as the Conservatives' leader and appointed as Prime Minister, after Theresa May resigned. Johnson could not get Parliament to approve a revised withdrawal agreement by the end of October, and chose to call for a snap election. The House of Commons voted by 438–20 in support of this, and the EPGEA became law on 31 October 2019. Johnson needed to obtain an overall majority in the election in order to accomplish his main goal of taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union by the end of January 2020.[4] Opinion polls showed a firm lead for the Conservatives against Labour throughout the campaign.

At the election, the Conservatives made a net gain of 48 seats, in what was regarded as a landslide victory across the English constituencies, winning 43.6% of the vote (the highest share for any party since 1979) and 365 seats (the highest number for the party since 1987). The party won 345 seats in England, and 14 seats in Wales: both increases on 2019. Labour made a net loss of 60 seats, mostly to the Conservatives in northern England and across the Midlands.[5][6] Labour's losses in the general election led its leader Jeremy Corbyn to announce his intention to resign as the party's leader.[3][7] The Liberal Democrats increased their share of the votes to 11.6%, but their leader Jo Swinson was obliged under her party's rules to announce her resignation after losing her seat in East Dunbartonshire, leaving her party with 11 seats.[8] The Green Party held its one seat and saw its vote share increase. Just like in 2015 and 2017, four different parties won the most seats across the four countries of the United Kingdom.

Background

Theresa May began 2019 as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The second May ministry was unable to pass the Brexit withdrawal agreement by 31 March 2019, so some political commentators considered that an early United Kingdom general election was likely.[9] The opposition Labour Party called for a January 2019 vote of confidence in the May ministry, but the motion failed.[10] After May resigned after the 2019 European Parliament election, during the first extension granted for negotiations on the withdrawal agreement, Boris Johnson won the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election and became prime minister on 23 July 2019. Along with attempting to revise the withdrawal agreement arranged by his predecessor's negotiations, Johnson made three attempts for a snap election under the process defined in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which requires a two-thirds supermajority in support of this.[11][12][13][14]

All three attempts failed to gain support, while Johnson faced increasing pressure to secure a deal for the United Kingdom, following the enactment of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 (referred to as the "Benn Act") which prevented him from taking the country out of the EU without a deal. After failing to pass a revised deal before the first extension's deadline of 31 October 2019, Johnson was forced to call for a second extension on negotiations from the EU, and agreed upon holding a vote in the House of Commons for a snap election through a proposal forwarded by the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National parties on 28 October. The Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 (EPGEA) won a majority in the Commons by 438 votes to 20; an attempt to pass an amendment by opposition parties for the election to be held on 9 December failed by 315 votes to 295.[15][16] The House of Lords followed suit on 30 October,[17] with Royal Assent made the day after for its ratification.[18]

Date of the election

The deadline for candidate nominations was 14 November 2019,[19] with political campaigning for four weeks until polling day on 12 December. On the day of the election, polling stations across the country were open from 7 am, and closed at 10 pm.[20] This date occurred despite the FTPA, which introduced fixed-term parliaments to the United Kingdom, with elections having been scheduled on the Thursday 5 May 2022.[21][22] The date chosen for the 2019 general election made it the first to be held in December since 1923.[23][24]

Voting eligibility

Individuals eligible to vote had to be registered to vote by midnight on 26 November.[25] To be eligible to vote, individuals had to be[26][27] aged 18 or over; residing as a Commonwealth citizen at an address in the United Kingdom,[n 5] or a British citizen overseas who registered to vote in the last 15 years;[n 6][29][30] and not legally excluded (on grounds of detainment in prison, a mental hospital, or on the run from law enforcement)[31] or disqualified from voting.[32][33] Anyone who qualified as an anonymous elector had until midnight on 6 December to register.[n 7]

Timetable

The key dates were:[35]

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)[36]
Tuesday 26 November
Deadline to register for a postal vote at 5pm (Great Britain)[36]
Deadline for registering to vote at 11:59pm[36]
Wednesday 4 December
Deadline to register for a proxy vote at 5pm. (Exemptions apply for emergencies.)
Thursday 12 December
Polling Day – polls open 7 am to 10 pm
Friday 13 December
Results announced for all the 650 constituencies. End of purdah.
Tuesday 17 December
First meeting of the new 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.[37][38][39]
Thursday 19 December
State Opening of Parliament.

Campaign

Campaign background

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)[40][41] was 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.[42] 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.[43][44] 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.[45]

One reason for the defections from the Labour Party was the ongoing allegations of antisemitism and allegations 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.[46] The Jewish Labour Movement declared it would not generally campaign for Labour.[47] The Conservative Party has also been criticised for not doing enough about alleged Islamophobia in the party.[48]

Also 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.[49]

Policy positions

Brexit

The major parties had a wide variety of stances on Brexit. The Conservative Party supported leaving under the terms of the withdrawal agreement as negotiated by Johnson (amending Theresa May's previous agreement), and this agreement formed a central part of the Conservative campaign.[50] The Brexit Party were in favour of a "no-deal Brexit", with their leader Farage calling for Johnson to drop the deal.[51]

The Labour Party position was 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.[52] The Labour Party's campaigning stance in that referendum would be decided at a special conference.[53] In a Question Time special featuring four party leaders, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that he would stay neutral in the referendum campaign.[54]

The Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party (SNP), Plaid Cymru, The Independent Group for Change, and the Green Party of England and Wales were all opposed to Brexit, and proposed that a further referendum be held with the option – for which they would campaign – to remain in the EU.[55] The Liberal Democrats originally pledged that if they formed a majority government (considered a highly unlikely outcome by observers),[56] they would revoke the Article 50 notification immediately and cancel Brexit.[55][57][58][59] 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.[60]

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was in favour of a withdrawal agreement in principle, but it opposed 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.[61][62] Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP)[63] and Alliance all favoured remaining in the EU. The UUP did not see a second referendum as a necessary route to achieving this goal.[63]

Tax and spending commitments

In September 2019, the Conservative government performed a spending review, where they announced plans to increase public spending by £13.8 billion/year, and reaffirmed plans to spend another £33.9 billion/year on the NHS by 2023. Chancellor Sajid Javid said the government had turned the page on 10 years of austerity.[64] During the election the parties produced manifestos that outlined spending in addition to those already planned.

The Conservative manifesto was described as having "little in the way of changes to tax" by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The decision to keep the rate of corporation tax at 19%, and not reduce it to 17% as planned, is expected to raise £6 billion/year. The plan to increase the national insurance threshold for employees and self-employed to £9,500 will cost £2 billion/year.[65] They also committed to not raise rates of income tax, National Insurance or VAT.[66] There are increased spending commitments of £3 billion current spending and £8 billion 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).[67]

The Labour manifesto plans to raise an extra £78 billion/year from taxes over the course of the parliament, with sources including:[65]

  • £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 £98 billion current spending and £55 billion investment spending. This would overall lead to the UK's debt as a percentage of GDP rising;[67] 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.[68]

The Liberal Democrat manifesto plans to raise an extra £36 billion/year from taxes over the course of the parliament, with sources including:[65]

  • £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 £37 billion current spending and £26 billion 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.[67]

Other issues

The Conservative Party proposed increasing spending on the NHS, although not as much of an increase as Labour and Liberal Democrat proposals.[69] 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.[66]

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.[70] 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.[71] 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.[72] Labour is running for free education for six years.[73][74] 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.[75]

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.[76]

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 licence fee; and abolishing inheritance tax, interest on student loans, and HS2. They also want to move to a US-style Supreme Court.[77]

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.[78]

The Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the SNP and Labour all support a ban on fracking, whilst the Conservatives propose approving fracking on a case-by-case basis.[79][80]

Party positions in the event of a hung Parliament

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.[81] 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.[82]

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.[83] 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.[63]

Tactical voting

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.[84] 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.[85] 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.[86]

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.[87][88] The websites did not always give the same advice, which Michael Savage, political editor of centre-left The Guardian newspaper, said had the potential to confuse voters.[87] One of the websites—GetVoting, set up by Best for Britain—was accused of giving bogus advice in Labour/Conservative marginal seats.[89][90] The website, which had links to the Liberal Democrat party,[90] 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.[89][90] Further into the election period, tactical voting websites changed their recommendations because of new data.[91]

In the final weekend before voting, The Guardian cited a poll suggesting that the Conservative party held a 15% lead over Labour,[92] while on the same day, the Conservative-backing Daily Telegraph emphasised a poll indicating only an 8% lead.[93] 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.[94]

Canvassing and leafleting

Predictions of an overall Conservative majority were based on their targeting of primarily Labour-held, Brexit-backing seats in the Midlands and the north of England.[95] At the start of the election period, Labour-supporting organisation Momentum held what was described as "the largest mobilising call in UK history",[96] 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.[96]

The Liberal Democrats likewise were considered possible contenders for a number of Conservative-held southern English constituencies; with a large swing that could even topple Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton.[97] At the beginning of the 2019 campaign, they had been accused of attempting to mislead voters by using selective polling data[98] and use of a quotation attributed to The Guardian newspaper rather than to their leader, Jo Swinson.[99] They were also accused of making campaign leaflets look like newspapers, although this practice has been used by all major British political parties for many years, including by Labour and the Conservatives during this election.[100]

The Liberal Democrats won a court case stopping the SNP from distributing a "potentially defamatory" leaflet in Swinson's constituency over false claims about funding she had received.[101]

Online campaigning

The use of social media advertising is seen as particularly useful to political parties as they can target people by gender, age, and location.[102] 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.[103] 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.[104]

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.[105][106] Some of the Conservative social media activity has created headlines challenging whether it is deceptive.[107][108][109][110][111] This included editing a clip of Keir Starmer to appear he was unable to answer a question about Labour's Brexit policy.[108] In response to criticism over the doctored Starmer footage, Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly said the clip of Starmer was satire and "obviously edited".[108]

Veracity of statements by political parties

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.[112][113][114][115][107][116] 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".[107] In response to the re-branding on Twitter, the Electoral Commission, which does not have a role in regulating election campaign content, called on all campaigners to act "responsibly",[116][115][117] fact-checking body Full Fact criticised this behaviour as "inappropriate and misleading", and Twitter stated that it would take "decisive corrective action" if there were "further attempts to mislead people".[114][115][107][116][118][119]

First Draft News released an analysis of Facebook ads posted by political parties between December 1 and December 4. The analysis reports 88% of the 6,749 posts the Conservatives made had been "challenged" by fact checker Full Fact. 5,000 of these ads related to a "40 new hospitals" claim where Full Fact concluded only 6 had been costed, with the others only currently receiving money for planning (with building uncosted and due to occur after 2025). 4,000 featured inaccurate claims about the cost of Labour's spending plans to the tax payer. 500 related to a "50,000 more nurses" posts which is composed of 31,500 extra new nurses, and convincing 18,500 more to remain.[120][121][122] 16.5% of Liberal Democrats posts were highlighted, which related to claims they are the only party to beat Labour, the Conservatives or the SNP ‘in seats like yours’.[122][121] None of the posts made by Labour in the period were challenged, although posts made on December 10 claiming a "Labour government would save households thousands in bills" and the Conservative Party had “cut £8bn from social care” since 2010, were flagged as misleading.[121][122] According to the BBC, Labour supporters had been more likely to share unpaid-for electioneering posts, some of which included misleading claims.[123]

Television debates

← 2017 debates 2019

ITV aired a head-to-head election debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on 19 November, hosted by Julie Etchingham.[124] 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.[125] Johnson cancelled his ITV interview with Etchingham, scheduled for 6 December, whilst the other major party leaders agreed to be interviewed.[126]

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.[127] The leaders of the SNP, Labour, Plaid Cymru, the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party were all interviewed by Neil and the leader of the Conservative Party was not,[128] leading Neil to release a challenge to Johnson to be interviewed.[129] The Conservatives dismissed Neil's challenge.[130] BBC Scotland, BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Northern Ireland also hosted a variety of regional debates.[131]

Channel 4 cancelled a debate scheduled for 24 November after Johnson would not agree to a head-to-head with Corbyn.[132] A few days later, the network hosted a leaders' debate focused on the climate. Johnson and Farage did not attend and were replaced on stage by ice sculptures with their party names written on them.[133] 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,[134] and suggested that they might review the channel's broadcasting licence.[135] Ofcom rejected the Conservatives' complaint.[136] The Conservatives and the Brexit Party did not send a representative to Channel 4's "Everything but Brexit" on December 8.[137]

Sky News was due to hold a three-way election debate on 28 November, inviting Johnson, Corbyn and Swinson.[138] Swinson confirmed she would attend the debate,[139] but it was later cancelled after agreements could not be made with Corbyn or Johnson.[140]

2019 United Kingdom general election debates in Great Britain
Date Organisers Venue Region Viewing figures
(millions)
 P  Present   S  Standing-in   NI  Not invited   A  Absent   I  Invited   N  No debate  
Con Lab SNP LD Plaid Green Brexit
17 November[141] ITV Cymru Wales ITV Wales Studios, Cardiff[125] Wales 0.28 S
Davies
S
Thomas-Symonds
NI P
Dodds
S
Saville Roberts
NI S
Gill
19 November[142] ITV Dock10, Salford[143] UK 7.34 P
Johnson
P
Corbyn
NI NI NI NI NI
22 November[144] BBC
(Question Time)
Octagon Centre, Sheffield[145][144] UK 4.62 P
Johnson
P
Corbyn
P
Sturgeon
P
Swinson
NI NI NI
24 November
(cancelled)[146][147]
Channel 4 N/A UK N/A N
Johnson
N
Corbyn
NI NI NI NI NI
26 November BBC Wales
(Wales Live)
Pembrokeshire County
Showground, Haverfordwest[148]
Wales TBA S
Davies
S
Griffith
NI P
Dodds
S
Saville Roberts
NI S
Wells
28 November
(cancelled)[140]
Sky News N/A UK N/A N
Johnson
N
Corbyn
NI N
Swinson
NI NI NI
28 November[149] Channel 4
(climate and nature)
ITN Headquarters, London[150] UK TBA A[n 8]
Johnson
P
Corbyn
P
Sturgeon
P
Swinson
P
Price
P
Berry
A
Farage
29 November[152] BBC Senedd, Cardiff[153] UK TBA S
Sunak
S
Long-Bailey
P
Sturgeon
P
Swinson
P
Price
S
Lucas
S
Tice
1 December[154] ITV Dock10, Salford[155] UK TBA S
Sunak
S
Burgon
P
Sturgeon
P
Swinson
P
Price
P
Berry
P
Farage
3 December[156] BBC Wales Wrexham Glyndŵr University, Wrexham Wales TBA S
Jones
S
Hanson
NI S
John
S
ap Iorwerth
NI P
Gill
3 December[157] STV STV Pacific Quay, Glasgow Scotland TBA P
Carlaw
P
Leonard
P
Sturgeon
P
Rennie
NI NI NI
6 December BBC Maidstone Studios, Maidstone[158][159] UK 4.42 P
Johnson
P
Corbyn
NI NI NI NI NI
8 December[160][161] Channel 4
(everything but Brexit)
Leeds (TBC) UK TBA A
S
Rayner
S
Whitford
P
Swinson
P
Price
P
Bartley
A
9 December[162] BBC
(Question Time Under 30)
York[163] UK TBA S
Jenrick
S
Rayner
S
Yousaf
P
Swinson
P
Price
P
Bartley
P
Farage
10 December[164] BBC Scotland BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow Scotland TBA P
Carlaw
P
Leonard
P
Sturgeon
P
Rennie
NI NI NI


2019 United Kingdom general election debates in Northern Ireland
Date Organisers Venue Viewing figures
(millions)
 P  Present   S  Standing-in   NI  Not invited   A  Absent   I  Invited   N  No debate  
DUP SF SDLP UUP Alli.
8 December UTV Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast[165] TBA S
Little-Pengelly
P
O'Neill
P
Eastwood
P
Aiken
P
Long
10 December[166] BBC Northern Ireland Broadcasting House, Belfast TBA S
Donaldson
P
O'Neill
P
Eastwood
P
Aiken
P
Long


Campaign events

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.[167] Two other Conservative candidates were suspended from the Conservative party over antisemitic social media posts, but retained their candidacy for the party.[168][169][170][171] The Liberal Democrats removed one of its candidates over antisemitic social media posts, and defended two others.[172]

Several former Labour MPs critical of Corbyn endorsed the Conservatives.[173] Meanwhile, several former Conservative MPs endorsed the Liberal Democrats and/or independent candidates, including the former deputy Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine.[174] A week before 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.[175]

Floods hit parts of England from 7 – 18 November. Johnson was criticised for what some saw as his late response to the flooding[176][177] after he said they were not a national emergency.[178]

The Conservatives banned Daily Mirror reporters from Johnson's campaign bus.[179][180]

On 27 November, Labour announced it had obtained leaked government documents; they said these showed that, despite denials, the Conservatives were in trade negotiations with the US over the NHS. The Conservatives said Labour were peddling "conspiracy theories".[181]

A terrorist stabbing attack happened in London on 29 November, because of which the political parties suspended campaigning in London for a period.[182]

The 2019 NATO summit was held in Watford, United Kingdom, on 3–4 December 2019. It was attended by 29 heads of state and heads of government, including Donald Trump.[183]

On 6 December, Labour announced it had hold of leaked government documents which they said showed that Johnson had misled 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.[184]

Contesting political parties and candidates

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.

Great Britain

Major parties (parties with multiple MPs at dissolution or those that currently have multiple MEPs) that contested 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
dissolution
Contested seats
% of
votes
Seats
Conservative Party Boris Johnson July 2019 Uxbridge & South Ruislip 42.4% 317 298 635 seats in the United Kingdom [185]
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 3] 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 9] 0.5% 4 4 36 seats in Wales
Green Party of England and Wales Jonathan Bartley September 2016 None[n 10] 1.6% 1 1 474 seats in England and Wales
Siân Berry September 2018
Brexit Party Nigel Farage March 2019 None[n 11] New party 0 276 seats in Great Britain

As outlined above, the Conservative Party has governed in coalition or on their own since 2010, and has been led by Boris Johnson since July 2019. Jeremy Corbyn has been Labour Party leader since 2015 and was the first Labour leader since Tony Blair to contest consecutive general elections, as well as the first since Neil Kinnock to contest a second general election after lost the first. One other party, the Liberal Democrats, contested 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.[186][187] The Brexit Party contested 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 stood 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 stood 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 before this election) of seats there. Similarly, Plaid Cymru, led by Adam Price, stand only in Wales where they hold 4 of 40 seats.

Northern Ireland

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 did not stand in 2019.

In the 2019 election, there were a total of 102 candidates in Northern Ireland.[188]

Party Leader Leader since Leader's
seat
Last election Seats at
dissolution
Contesting seats
(out of
18 in total)
%
(in NI)
Seats
Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster December 2015 None[n 12] 36.0% 10 10 17 seats
Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald February 2018 None[n 13] 29.4% 7 7 15 seats
Social Democratic & Labour Party Colum Eastwood November 2015 None[n 14] 11.7% 0 0 15 seats
Ulster Unionist Party Steve Aiken November 2019 None[n 15] 10.3% 0 0 16 seats
Alliance Party Naomi Long October 2016 None[n 16] 7.9% 0 0 18 seats

Electoral pacts and unilateral decisions

In England and Wales, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party of England and Wales – parties sharing an anti-Brexit position – arranged a "Unite to Remain" pact. Labour declined to be involved. This agreement meant that in 60 constituencies only one of these parties, the one considered to have the best chance of winning, stood. This pact aimed to maximise the total number of anti-Brexit MPs returned under the first-past-the-post system by avoiding the spoiler effect.[189]

In addition, the Liberal Democrats did not run against Dominic Grieve (independent, formerly Conservative),[190] Gavin Shuker (independent, formerly Labour),[191] and Anna Soubry (The Independent Group for Change, formerly Conservative).[192][193]

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.[194] 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.[195] 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.[196] 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 denied any deal was done between the two.[196][197][198]

The Green Party also did not stand in two Conservative-held seats, Chingford and Woodford Green and Calder Valley, in favour of Labour.[199][200] The Green Party had also unsuccessfully attempted to form a progressive alliance with the Labour Party prior to Unite to Remain.[201] The Women's Equality Party stood aside in three seats in favour of the Liberal Democrats, after the LibDems adopted some of their policies.

The DUP did not contest Fermanagh and South Tyrone and the UUP did not contest Belfast North so as not to split the unionist vote. Other parties stood down in selected seats so as not to split the anti-Brexit vote. The nationalist and anti-Brexit parties the SDLP and Sinn Féin agreed a pact whereby the SDLP did not stand in Belfast North (in favour of Sinn Féin), while Sinn Féin did not stand in Belfast South (in favour of SDLP); neither party stood in Belfast East or North Down[202] and advised their supporters to vote Alliance in those two constituencies. The Green Party in Northern Ireland did not stand in any of the four Belfast constituencies,[203] backing the SDLP in Belfast South, Sinn Féin in Belfast North and West, and Alliance in Belfast East and North Down;[204][205][206][207] the party only stood in the safe seats of East Antrim, Strangford and West Tyrone. Alliance did not stand down in any seats,[208] describing the plans as "sectarian".[209]

Marginal seats

At the 2017 election, more than 1 in 8 seats were won by a margin of 5% or less of votes,[210] while almost 1 in 4 were won by 10% or less.[211] These seats were seen as crucial in deciding the election.[212]

2017–19 MPs standing under a different political affiliation

Eighteen MPs elected in 2017 contested the election for a different party or as an independent candidate; five stood for a different seat. All of these candidates failed to be re-elected.

Outgoing MP 2017 party 2017 constituency 2019 party 2019 constituency
Luciana Berger Labour Liverpool Wavertree Liberal Democrats Finchley and Golders Green
Frank Field Labour Birkenhead Birkenhead Social Justice Birkenhead
Mike Gapes Labour Ilford South Change UK Ilford South
David Gauke Conservative South West Hertfordshire Independent South West Hertfordshire
Roger Godsiff Labour Birmingham Hall Green Independent Birmingham Hall Green
Dominic Grieve Conservative Beaconsfield Independent Beaconsfield
Sam Gyimah Conservative East Surrey Liberal Democrats Kensington
Phillip Lee Conservative Bracknell Liberal Democrats Wokingham
Chris Leslie Labour Nottingham East Change UK Nottingham East
Ivan Lewis (withdrawn)[213] Labour Bury South Independent Bury South
Anne Milton Conservative Guildford Independent Guildford
Antoinette Sandbach Conservative Eddisbury Liberal Democrats Eddisbury
Anna Soubry Conservative Broxtowe Change UK Broxtowe
Gavin Shuker Labour Luton South Independent Luton South
Angela Smith Labour Penistone and Stocksbridge Liberal Democrats Altrincham and Sale West
Chris Williamson Labour Derby North Independent Derby North
Sarah Wollaston Conservative Totnes Liberal Democrats Totnes
Chuka Umunna Labour Streatham Liberal Democrats Cities of London and Westminster

Withdrawn or disowned candidates

The following candidates withdrew from campaigning or had support from their party withdrawn after the close of nominations, and so they remained on the ballot paper in their constituency. Hanvey was elected.[214]

Candidate Party Constituency Reason for withdrawal Date
Safia Ali Labour Falkirk Prior antisemitic posts on Facebook[215] 28 November
Amjad Bashir Conservative Leeds North East Comments made in 2014 saying Jews were radicalised by visiting Israel[216][217] 20 November[218][219]
Sophie Cook Independent East Worthing and Shoreham Reported experience of abuse and harassment[220] 19 November
Victor Farrell Brexit Party Glenrothes Homophobic comments in 2017[221] 18 November
Neale Hanvey SNP Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Allegations of antisemitism (based on criticism of Israel and George Soros) in a 2016 Facebook post[222] 28 November
Ryan Houghton Conservative Aberdeen North Antisemitic, Islamophobic and homophobic tweets in 2012[223] 19 November
Ivan Lewis Independent[lower-alpha 1] Bury South Withdrew candidature and urged voters to vote Conservative[213] 4 December
Ben Mathis Liberal Democrats Hackney North and Stoke Newington Tweet that materialises adolescents and a body-shape cartoon against a hard right columnist before 2019[224] 24 November
Waheed Rafiq Liberal Democrats Birmingham, Hodge Hill Antisemitic comments before 2015[225] 20 November
Flora Scarabello Conservative Glasgow Central Islamophobic comment recorded private words[226] 27 November
  1. A Labour MP until 2018

Religious groups' opinions on the parties

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.[227][228][229][230] 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".[231]

Antisemitism in the Labour Party has been persistently covered in the media in the lead up to the election. In his leader's interview with Jeremy Corbyn, Andrew Neil dedicated the first third of the 30-minute programme entirely for discussion of Labour's relationship with the Jewish community.[232] 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 saying that British Jews were gripped by anxiety about the prospect of a Corbyn-led government.[233] The largest Jewish Labour group, the Jewish Labour Movement, have said they will not be actively campaigning locally for Labour unless there were exceptional circumstances.[234] Jewish Voice for Labour, a pro-Corbyn group formed in 2017, released a statement accusing Rabbi Mirvis of making unfounded allegations against Corbyn, saying that he personally supports the Conservative Party.[235] Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, endorsed Rabbi Mirvis's intervention.[236]

The Muslim Council of Britain spokesman stated Islamophobia "is particularly acute in the Conservative Party" and that Conservatives treat it "with denial, dismissal and deceit".[237] 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") "vote en bloc as directed by Imams".[238] The Sunday Mirror had also claimed that many of the candidates campaigning for the Brexit Party were Islamophobic.[239]

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,[240] and the Today programme reported that it had seen WhatsApp messages sent to Hindus across the country urging them to vote Conservative.[241][242] Some British Indians spoke out against what they saw as the BJP's meddling in the UK election.[230] The Hindu Council UK has been strongly critical of Labour, going as far as to say that Labour are "anti-Hindu"[243] and objected to the party's condemnation of the Indian government's actions in the disputed territory of Kashmir.[242] 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,[244] as no candidates of Indian descent were interviewed. The party selected only one candidate of Indian descent to contest one of the party's 39 safest seats.[245]

Endorsements

Newspapers, organisations and individuals have endorsed parties or individual candidates for the election.

Media coverage

Party representation

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%).[246][247] Due to this, the election coverage has been characterised as increasingly 'presidential' as smaller parties have been marginalised.[247] 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.[246] A large proportion of the newspaper coverage of Labour was negative.[248] Researches from the CRCC commented that this indicated the press was partisan and were "pulling out all the stops against Labour".[249] 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.[246][250]

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.[246] The Brexit Party (7%) and the SNP (5%) were fourth and fifth in terms of TV coverage, respectively.[246]

Dominant issues

Johnson's primary aim in calling a snap election was to secure a majority in order to complete the process of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union by the new deadline of 31 January 2020. The Conservatives required an increase of at least 9 seats compared to their 2017 result to achieve this. While Brexit heavily dominated the campaign, other issues included social spending, Labour's plan for the re-nationalisation of British industries and the SNP's call for a second referendum on Scottish Independence.

Gender balance

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, in seventh place, the most featured.[246] 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.[246][251]

Expert manifesto analysis

Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS)

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.[252][253][254][255][65]

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.[256] 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".[256] 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".[252][253][254][255][65]

The Conservative manifesto was criticised for a commitment not to raise rates of income tax, NICs or VAT as this put a significant constraint on reactions to 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.[256] They also state that it is "highly likely" spending would be higher than in their manifesto, partly due to a number of uncosted commitments.[252][253][254][255][65] 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".[257]

The IFS stated they had "serious doubt" that tax rises proposed would raise the amount Labour suggested, and said 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.[252][253][254][255][65] 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.[256][255]

The IFS described the Liberal Democrats' plans as a "radical" tax and spend package, but said 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 said plans to "virtually quintuple" current spending levels on universal free childcare amounted to "creating a whole new leg of the universal welfare state".[258][255]

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.[259]

Members of Parliament not standing for re-election

A total of 74 MPs who held seats at the end of the Parliament did not stand for re-election.[260][261]

Opinion polling

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 and the larger circles at the end represent the actual results of the election.


Predictions three weeks before the vote

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.

Parties Electoral Calculus[262]
as of 20 November 2019
Election Maps UK[263]
as of 17 November 2019
Elections Etc[264]
as of 20 November 2019
BritainElects[265]
as of 20 November 2019
Conservatives
365
346
354
346
Labour Party 201 211 206 211
SNP 46 51 45 51
Liberal Democrats 19 18 25 24
Plaid Cymru 4 4 4 4
Green Party 1 1 1 1
Brexit Party 0 0 0 0
Others 18[266] 19[267] 18 18
Overall result (probability) Conservative
80 seat majority
Conservative
42 seat majority
Conservative
58 seat majority
Conservative
42 seat majority

Predictions two weeks before the vote

Parties Electoral Calculus[262][268]
as of 27 November 2019
Election Maps UK[269]
as of 28 November 2019
Elections Etc[270]
as of 27 November 2019
YouGov[271][272]
as of 27 November 2019
Conservatives
342
338
353
359
Labour Party 224 226 208 211
SNP 41 45 44 43
Liberal Democrats 19 14 23 13
Plaid Cymru 4 5 4 4
Green Party 1 1 1 1
Brexit Party 0 0 0 0
Others 19[273] 19[274] 19 19
Overall result Conservative
34 seat majority
Conservative
26 seat majority
Conservative
56 seat majority
Conservative
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 vote

Prediction based upon polls:

Parties Electoral Calculus[262]
as of 8 December 2019
Election Maps UK[275]
as of 6 December 2019
Elections Etc[276]
as of 5 December 2019
UK-Elect[277]
as of 8 December 2019
Conservatives
348
345
346
354
Labour Party 225 224 218 212
SNP 41 43 45 43
Liberal Democrats 13 14 19 17
Plaid Cymru 4 4 4 4
Green Party 1 1 1 1
Brexit Party 0 0 0 0
Others 19[278] 19[279] 19[280] 19[281]
Overall result Conservative
46 seat majority
Conservative
40 seat majority
Conservative
42 seat majority
Conservative
58 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):

Parties Oddschecker[282]
Conservatives
351
Labour Party 210
SNP 44
Liberal Democrats 18
Plaid Cymru 4
Green Party 1
Brexit Party 0
Others 19[283]
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.

Final predictions

Parties YouGov[284]
as of 10 December 2019
Electoral Calculus[285]
as of 12 December 2019
Election Maps UK[286]
as of 12 December 2019
Elections Etc[287]
as of 12 December 2019
UK-Elect[288]
as of 11 December 2019
Conservatives
339
351
344
341
348
Labour Party 231 224 223 224 217
SNP 41 41 45 43 44
Liberal Democrats 15 13 14 19 17
Plaid Cymru 4 2 4 4 4
Green Party 1 1 1 1 1
Brexit Party 0 0 0 1 0
Others 19 18[289] 18[290] 19 19[291]
Overall result Conservative
28 seat majority
Conservative
52 seat majority
Conservative
38 seat majority
Conservative
32 seat majority
Conservative
46 seat majority

Exit poll

An exit poll conducted by Ipsos MORI for the BBC, ITV and Sky News, was published at the end of voting at 10 pm, predicting the number of seats for each party.[292][293]

Parties Seats Change
Conservative Party 368 51
Labour Party 191 71
Scottish National Party 55 20
Liberal Democrats 13 1
Plaid Cymru 3 1
Green Party 1
Brexit Party 0 New party
Others 19
Conservative 86 seat majority

Full results

The Conservative Party won a landslide victory securing 365 seats out of 650, giving them an overall majority of 80. The Conservatives gained seats in several Labour Party strongholds in Northern England, flipping seats that were held by Labour for decades. Bishop Auckland elected a Conservative for the first time in its 134-year history as constituency. In the worst results for the party in more than 80 years,[294] Labour lost a total of 59 seats reducing them to 203 seats.[295][296] The Liberal Democrats failed to gain the results they had hoped for: they both lost and won seats, for a net reduction of 1, reducing them to 11 seats in the new parliament.[294]

The Scottish National Party gained 13 seats, winning 48 of the 59 seats in Scotland.[n 4][297] The SNP's leader Nicola Sturgeon described the result as a clear mandate to hold a new referendum for Scottish independence.[298]

 Results of the December 2019 general election to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom[299]
Political party Leader Candidates MPs[300] Votes
Total Gained Lost Net Of total
(%)
Total Of total
(%)
Change
(%)
Conservative Boris Johnson 635 365 58 10 48 56.2 13,966,565 43.6 +1.2
Labour Jeremy Corbyn 631 202 1 61 60 31.1 10,269,076 32.1 −7.9
Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson 611 11 3 4 1 1.7 3,696,423 11.6 +4.2
SNP Nicola Sturgeon 59 48 14 1 13 7.4 1,242,372 3.9 +0.8
Green Siân Berry and Jonathan Bartley 472 1 0 0 0 0.2 835,579 2.7 +1.1
Brexit Party Nigel Farage 275 642,303 2.0 New
DUP Arlene Foster 17 8 0 2 2 1.2 244,128 0.8 −0.1
Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald 15 7 1 1 0 1.1 181,853 0.6 −0.2
Plaid Cymru Adam Price 36 4 0 0 0 0.6 153,265 0.5 0.0
Alliance Naomi Long 18 1 1 0 1 0.2 134,115 0.4 +0.2
SDLP Colum Eastwood 14 2 2 0 2 0.3 118,737 0.4 +0.1
UUP Steve Aiken 16 93,123 0.3 0.0
Yorkshire Party Christopher Whitwood 28 29,201 0.1 0.0
Scottish Green Patrick Harvie & Lorna Slater 22 28,122 0.1
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle 1 1 0.2 26,831 0.1 0.0
UKIP Patricia Mountain (interim) 44 22,817 0.1 −1.8
Ashfield Independents Jason Zadrozny 1 13,498 0.0 0.0
Liberal Steve Radford 19 10,562 0.0 0.0
The Independent Group for Change Anna Soubry 3 10,006 0.0 New
Aontú Peadar Tóibín 7 9,814 0.0 New
Monster Raving Loony Howling Laud Hope 24 9,739 0.0 0.0
People Before Profit Collective 2 7,526 0.0
Birkenhead Social Justice Frank Field 1 7,285 0.0 New
Christian Peoples Alliance Sidney Cordle 27 6,486 0.0 0.0
Heavy Woollen Independents Aleksandar Lukic 1 6,423 0.0
SDP William Clouston 20 3,295 0.0 0.0
Animal Welfare Vanessa Hudson 6 3,086 0.0 0.0
North East Party Mark Burdon 2 2,637 0.0
Lincolnshire Independent Marianne Overton 1 1,999 0.0 N/A
Green (NI) Clare Bailey 3 1,996 0.0
English Democrat Robin Tilbrook 4 1,987 0.0 0.0
Libertarian Adam Brown 5 1,780 0.0 0.0
Mebyon Kernow Dick Cole 1 1,660 0.0 0.0
Proud of Oldham and Saddleworth Paul Errock 2 1,606 0.0 New
Independent Network Ian Stephens 1 1,542 0.0 New
Gwlad Gwlad Sian Caiach 3 1,515 0.0 New
Cynon Valley Andrew Chainey 1 1,322 0.0
Veterans and People's Robin Horsfall 2 1,219 0.0
Burnley and Padiham Party Mark Payne 1 1,162 0.0
Shropshire Party Robert Jones 1 1,141 0.0
Putting Cumbria First Jonathan Davies 1 1,070 0.0
Peace John Morris 2 971 0.0
Wycombe Independents Matt Knight 1 926 0.0
JAC Donald Jerrard 3 728 0.0
Christian Jeff Green 2 705 0.0 0.0
Renew Julie Girling 4 545 0.0 New
Workers Revolutionary Joshua Ogunleye 4 524 0.0 0.0
BNP Adam Walker 1 510 0.0 0.0
Scottish Family Party Richard Lucas 2 465 0.0
Women's Equality Mandu Reid (interim) 3 416 0.0
Scottish Libertarian Party Tam Laird 1 405 0.0
Communities United Kamran Malik 2 393 0.0
Advance Annabel Mullin 5 351 0.0 New
Young People's Thomas Hall 3 311 0.0
Alliance for Green Socialism Mike Davies 3 278 0.0
Yeshua Colin Rankine 2 204 0.0 New
Church of the Militant Elvis David Bishop 1 172 0.0 0.0
Socialist Equality Collective 3 172 0.0
Socialist (GB) None 2 157 0.0
Blank and invalid votes
Total 3429 650 0 100 31,829,630 100 0.0
Registered voters, and turnout 47,587,254 67.30

Analysis

The Conservatives gained support in England and Wales (and Northern Ireland, though only contesting 4 out of 18 seats), but lost support in Scotland in the face of a major SNP advance. The Conservatives won in England, advancing by 1.7% and gaining 48 seats to win 345 out of 533, while Labour fell back by 8% and lost 47 seats to win just 180.[301] Labour won in Wales, though it lost 8% of the vote and 6 seats to retain 22 out of 40, while the Conservatives advanced by 2.5% and gained 6 seats to win 14 in total.[302] The SNP won in Scotland, advancing by 8.1% and gaining 13 seats to win 48 out of 59, while the Conservatives lost 3.5% of the vote and 7 seats to win just 6 in total and Labour fell back 8.5% and lost 6 seats to win just a single seat.[303]

Around a quarter of voters said they were trying to stop the party they liked least from winning, i.e. voting tactically.[304] Recommendation by tactical voting websites had some benefit for Liberal Democrat candidates.[305]

See also

Footnotes

  1. Given that Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats and the Speaker and deputies do not vote, the number of MPs needed for a majority is, in practice, slightly lower. Sinn Féin won 7 seats, meaning a practical majority requires at least 320 MPs.
  2. Figure does not include the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who was included in the Labour seat total by some media outlets. Per British Law, the Speaker of the House of Commons severs all ties to their affiliated party upon being elected as Speaker.
  3. Nicola Sturgeon sits as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Southside. Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, is the SNP leader at Westminster.
  4. Includes Neale Hanvey, who was suspended from the party at the time of his election.
  5. Persons without a permanent or fixed address can make a "Declaration of local connection" to a particular location in order to register[28]
  6. 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
  7. 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).[34]
  8. Channel 4 described this as a leaders-only debate and refused to accept non-leaders as alternatives.[151]
  9. 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.
  10. Bartley sits as a councillor on Lambeth Council while Berry sits on the London Assembly. Bartley is standing in the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency as the Green Party and Unite to Remain candidate. The party's sole member in the Commons is Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and two-time former party leader.
  11. Farage sits as an MEP in the European Parliament for South East England. The party has no MPs in the House of Commons.
  12. 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 was Nigel Dodds, the MP for Belfast North, who lost his seat at the election.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. .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.
  16. Naomi Long sits as an MEP in the European Parliament for Northern Ireland.


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  267. DUP with 9; Sinn Fein with 6; SDLP with 2; Alliance and Speaker with 1
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  274. DUP with 9; Sinn Fein with 6; SDLP with 2; Alliance and Speaker with 1
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  279. DUP with eight; Sinn Fein with seven; SDLP with two; Alliance and Speaker with one
  280. DUP with nine; Sinn Fein with six; SDLP with two; Alliance and Speaker with one
  281. Speaker with one, uses 2017 NI results for forecasting
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  290. DUP with ten; Sinn Fein with six; and SDLP with two
  291. DUP with ten; Sinn Fein with seven; and "Others" with two
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    Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019

    Party manifestos

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