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by Sofia Villegas
05 July 2024
In context: A new UK Parliament

In context: A new UK Parliament

What happens now?

What is the difference between the government and the parliament?

The government is formed by the prime minister and their cabinet. 

The leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons will usually be appointed as prime minister. They will then choose other members of their party to take the remaining roles within the government. 

So, in other words, government tends to be formed by members from a single political party.
The UK Parliament scrutinises government decisions and is made up of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.  All those elected on 4 July will work in the House of Commons, representing their constituency as MPs. 

What if no party wins a majority?

In the event of a hung parliament, parties may need to work together to form a minority government or seek to form a coalition with any other party or parties. 

 

Rishi Sunak announced a general election in a wet Downing Street on 22 May | Alamy

When will the new parliament begin?

The new parliament will meet for the first time on 9 July, when it will elect the House of Commons speaker and swear in the newly elected or returning MPs.

What does the speaker do?

The Speaker presides over debates, decides who speaks and what motions should be considered. 
They must be politically impartial, hence the MP elected to the role must resign from their political party. However, they can still represent their constituents as an independent.

How is the speaker chosen?

The speaker is elected in a secret ballot by MPs. However, if after the general election, the prior Speaker wishes to continue with the role, no ballot is needed. They can instead be reappointed if a majority of MPs vote in their favour. 

This technically means MPs can vote against a Speaker getting re-elected, but this is extremely rare. The last one to be voted out was Charles Manners-Sutton in 1835.

Until parliament was dissolved on 30 May, the speaker was Sir Lindsay Hoyle. 

Sir Lindsay Hoyle | Alamy

Is there a chance he will be voted out?

Well, Hoyle did recently face a motion of no confidence. 

He faced a backlash after allowing a vote on a Labour amendment to an SNP motion, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, before moving on to votes on the original motion and the government’s proposal.

Tory MPs accused the speaker of making an “overtly political decision” to help opposition leader Keir Starmer, after he suffered a Labour rebellion over his stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict in November.

According to parliamentary convention, an opposition party amendment (in this case Labour’s) to a motion submitted by another opposition party (the SNP) is not put to a vote when there is also a government amendment.

Hoyle’s actions sparked fury among MPs and a vote of no confidence in the Speaker, tabled by Conservative MP William Wragg, had the backing of 89 members. However, Wragg withdrew the motion.

Hoyle has since apologised for his decision. 

What happens after 9 July?

The State Opening of Parliament, which marks the formal beginning of the parliamentary year, and the King’s speech will follow on 17 July.

The speech is written by the government, and it outlines its agenda for the coming parliamentary year.

What happens after the speech?

MPs re-assemble at the House of Commons, where a debate on the content of the speech takes place. This is the chance for the prime minister to effectively sell his or her government’s vision for the country to parliamentary colleagues.

It tends to last around five days, with each day focusing on a topic such as health or home affairs. 

After the debating period finishes, members get the chance to vote on whether to back the government’s plan or not.

So, can the speech be voted down?

In short, yes. However, it is unusual for this to happen and would entail a significant lack of confidence in the new government.

The last time a speech was voted down was in 1924, when prime minister Stanley Baldwin’s Tory minority government was defeated. This led Baldwin to resign and the Labour opposition formed a new government.

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