When is the next UK general election? Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to have head-to-head BBC debate

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will have their final televised debate of the 2024 election campaign on Wednesday, June 26  (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will have their final televised debate of the 2024 election campaign on Wednesday, June 26 (PA Wire)
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Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will have a televised head-to-head debate on the BBC a week before the 2024 general election.

Sophie Raworth will host the final TV debate of the election campaign in Nottingham between 9pm and 10pm on Wednesday, June 26.

Sir Keir will also participate in a two-hour Question Time special with the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party on Thursday, June 20. Fiona Bruce will host this in York between 8pm and 10pm.

The Telegraph reported that Labour said he would not attend a seven-party debate in London on Friday, June 7. Mishal Husain will host this from 7.30pm-9pm.

Downing Street reportedly said Mr Sunak had not decided whether to attend the events on June 7 or 20.

Jonathan Munro, Deputy CEO of BBC News, said: “TV debates have become a key part of elections in the UK, giving voters the chance to hear leaders and senior politicians debate policies and ideas directly with each other, which rarely happens on the campaign trail.

“The BBC brings people together. Providing a shared space for people to debate and discuss is a vital part of our mission, so I’m delighted we’re holding this series of debates and election specials, hosted by such talented presenters.”

On Tuesday (June 4), Mr Sunak and Sir Keir will have their first head-to-head 2024 election campaign debate.

Meanwhile, applications to register to vote have risen significantly since the announcement of the election.

There were 405,063 applications in the seven days to May 29, more than double the 159,770 in the previous week to May 22.

Those who have not yet registered to vote, or are unsure if they are eligible, have until 11.59pm on June 18 to apply,

You can find out about the voting process here.

So when is the next UK general election?

Here’s what you need to know.

When is the next UK general election?

The next general election will be on Thursday, July 4 after Parliament was dissolved at the end of May.

People can vote in person, by post or by sending someone in their place (PA Archive)
People can vote in person, by post or by sending someone in their place (PA Archive)

When was the last general election?

The last general election was on December 12, 2019. The Conservative Party won a large majority of 80 seats. This was a net gain of 48, on 43.6 per cent of the popular vote, the highest percentage for any party since the 1979 general election.

Boris Johnson, the then-prime minister, called the election after months of parliamentary deadlock that delayed Brexit.

Another general election was held in 2017 called by then-prime minister Theresa May. She had hoped to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations.

When can a general election be held?

On March 24, 2022, the Government repealed the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, which had created five-year periods between elections and allowed earlier elections only in specific circumstances. The UK thus reverted to the prior situation, when the prime minister could ask the King to dissolve Parliament so a general election could be held.

When the act was repealed, the then-minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis, said: “The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was not fit for purpose, causing constitutional chaos in 2019 and delaying the Government acting on people’s priorities.

“At critical moments, we must trust the British public’s good judgement. Elections give the public a voice, and it’s right that we return to a tried-and-tested system that allows them to take place when needed.”

Why are elections held on a Thursday?

Every general election since 1931 has been held on a Thursday.

It was suggested that this would encourage more people to vote. It has been thought that elections on a Friday would have had lower turnouts given people’s desire to begin their weekends.

Saturday and Sunday were believed to have been ruled out given the need to pay extra for polling staff (typically local council employees) to work on weekends.