The Law Society

07/09/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/10/2024 02:21

A special general election update from the Law Society’s public affairs team.

What you need to know

1. The result

On Thursday 4 July, after six weeks of campaigning, Britain headed to the polls to elect a new parliament, and with it the prime minister and government.

As polls closed, Sky News' exit poll indicated a historic victory for Labour, with the Conservatives' 2019 majority collapsing overnight.

The Liberal Democrats, Reform and the Greens all enjoyed historic evenings too.

While the exit poll was not entirely right, it was correct in its prediction that Labour would win a landslide election, and that the Tories would suffer dreadful losses.

The results:

  • Labour - 412
  • Conservative - 121
  • Liberal Democrats - 72
  • Scottish National Party (SNP) - 9
  • Reform - 5
  • Green - 4
  • Other - 27

Overall voter turnout was down to 60% of registered voters, down 7.6% from 2019.

2. Labour wins historic majority

The overall winner of the evening was undoubtedly Sir Keir Starmer and the Labour Party.

Following a major defeat in 2019, four and a half years later, Labour has once again won the right to form a majority government.

Labour made gains across the country, regaining red wall seats lost in 2019 and taking swathes of formerly safe Conservative seats.

That said, despite gaining 211 seats, its national vote share is anticipated to be around the 34% mark, and many of the seats won yesterday have relatively fragile majorities.

While Starmer's majority is likely to last the five year term, many Labour MPs are not necessarily safe if his term proves unproductive.

On Friday 5 July, Keir Starmer was asked by the King to form a government and became prime minister. He has since begun to appoint his cabinet.

3. Conservatives lose 250 MPs

Meanwhile, many Conservative members, MPs and prospective candidates watched from behind the proverbial sofa as exit polls spelled their demise.

Some outlets had its seat count as low as the 80s prior to election day and the final result, while not quite so terrible, still marked their worst result in modern history.

The Conservatives lost a total of 250 seats and their share of the national vote dropped to 24%.

A number of high-profile figures lost their seats, including:

  • former prime minister Liz Truss
  • lord chancellor Alex Chalk
  • defence secretary Grant Shapps
  • leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt

Former prime minister Rishi Sunak called Sir Keir Starmer in the early hours of Friday morning to concede the election and congratulate him, spoke from the steps of Downing Street.

Sunak took responsibility for the election defeat, and announced his intention to step down as leader of the Conservative Party once arrangements to appoint his successor are in place.

The process and timeline for the Conservative leadership election is expected to be revealed in the coming days.

4. Liberal Democrats secure the highest seat count in their history

It was also a very good night for the Liberal Democrats, who re-established themselves as the UK's third party in terms of seats.

This surge allows them several privileges in parliament such as the ability to ask two questions at Prime Minister's Questions, as well as greater representation on select committees.

The party have won 72 seats, up 63 on its 2019 result.

This is the largest number of Liberal Democrat MPs elected in 100 years, when the party was still the Liberal Party.

5. SNP lose 38 seats

The SNP lost large swathes of its seats to Labour in its worst election result since 2010. The party entered the election defending 48 of the 57 Scottish seats, but won just nine.

Labour picked up several constituencies in the central belt, seeing vote share swings of about 20% from the SNP.

First minister John Swinney described the result as "very, very difficult and damaging", and said that he accepted that the SNP have failed to convince people of the urgency of independence.

6. Reform predicted 13 seats but pick up 4

The Reform Party had a mixed evening: while it managed to secure four seats, the exit poll had suggested it would pick up as many as 13.

Party leader Nigel Farage managed to win his seat, after standing in seven previous general elections, and Reform's CEO Richard Tice was successfully elected in Boston and Skegness.

The vote share for Reform was 14.3% across the country, making them the third most popular party by vote share.

The first past the post system, however, means it picked up fewer seats than the Liberal Democrats, which secured 12.2% of the vote share, but secured 72 seats.

Coming up

Sir Keir Starmer has appointed his new cabinet and preparations will be made for the state opening of parliament and King's Speech on 17 July, where the new government will outline its legislative agenda.

Once parliament has opened, backbench MPs will be appointed to select committees and bills announced during the King's Speech can begin their passage through parliament.

Photo credit: Parrot of Doom | Wikimedia Commons

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