When is the next general election? Who could replace Boris Johnson if he resigns as Prime Minister?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces continuing calls to resign after he confirmed his presence at a Downing Street garden party during lockdown
Boris Johnson prompted outrage on Wednesday after he confirmed in Prime Minister’s Questions that he had indeed attended a “bring your own booze” party in the gardens of Downing Street in May 2020 – with at least 30 people allegedly present when it was forbidden to meet more than one other person outside in lockdown.
The Prime Minister’s apology fell flat for many Brits and fellow Members of Parliament as he insisted that he believed the party held amid the coronavirus lockdown to have been work-related, while adding that "with hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside".
Mr Johnson is now facing reiterated calls to resign by even MPs and politicians from within his own party, with Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross among those urging the Prime Minister to resign.
But who could replace Boris Johnson if he does resign? And when is the UK’s next general election?
Here’s what you need to know.
Who could replace Boris Johnson if he resigns?
While it is highly unlikely that Boris Johnson will choose to resign, especially before the investigation into the alleged multiple Downing Street parties and lockdown rule breaks is carried out by civil servant Sue Gray in full, there are a number of high profile Tory MPs and cabinet members who would likely try to claim his place.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is among the favourites to be a likely successor to Boris Johnson if he resigns or faces a no-confidence vote from backbenchers and Scottish MPs.
As the MP for South West Norfolk and Minister for Women and Equality, Truss is currently leading ongoing Brexit talks and favours the libertarian, free market economics associated with Margaret Thatcher’s prime ministerial reign.
Truss has risen quickly through the top Tory ranks since becoming one of the first cabinet ministers to back Boris as Theresa May’s replacement in 2019 and established herself as a viable contender for party leadership in cabinet roles since.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak would also be likely to contend for Conservative leadership if given the opportunity.
The MP for Richmond, North Yorkshire, has also risen through the ranks quickly – most notably replacing health secretary Sajid Javid as Chancellor after Javid resigned due to tensions with Dominic Cummings and Downing Street.
As Conservative frontbenchers voiced support for the PM on social media in response to calls to resign from backbenchers and senior Tories, Sunak struck a decidedly different tone in his own tweet of support on Wednesday, writing:
“I’ve been on a visit all day today continuing work on our #PlanForJobs as well as meeting MPs to discuss the energy situation.
“The PM was right to apologise and I support his request for patience while Sue Gray carries out her enquiry.”
Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove, Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab would also all be likely to try and contend the Conservative leadership should Johnson exit Number 10 before the next election.
Who is the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister?
The UK does not always have a deputy prime minister as it is an unpaid, honourary position which can be appointed by a Prime Minister if they wish.
During the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government of 2010-2015, Nick Clegg held the office of Deputy Prime Minister as he was the leader of the smaller, junior party in government.
The current Deputy Prime Minister is Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who was appointed to the position on 15 September 2021.
When is the next general election?
If Boris Johnson manages to evade calls from even within his party to resign as the UK Prime Minister, it may well not be until the next general election that we see him leave Number 10.
General elections are held every five years in the UK as per the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act (2011), which establishes fixed dates of and periods between general elections.
Earlier elections are only permitted if a Prime Minister loses a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons and no alternative government is formed within 14 days, or if at least two thirds of MPs in the Commons agree on a motion for an earlier election.
The next general election in the UK is currently set to be held on Thursday 2 May 2024, after the last UK general election took place on Thursday 12 December 2019.
This earlier than planned election came as a result of former Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation over Brexit gridlock in Parliament, with her replacement Boris Johnson later calling a snap election.