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Government eyes first December general election since 1923

Time is running out to go to the polls before Christmas.

The last December general election took place in 1923 (Rui Vieira/PA)
The last December general election took place in 1923 (Rui Vieira/PA)

By Ian Jones, PA

If MPs vote to hold a general election on December 12, it would be the first time in nearly 100 years that the country has gone to the polls so close to Christmas.

The last December general election took place in 1923.

The prime minister on that occasion was the Conservative Stanley Baldwin.

Like Boris Johnson, Baldwin had been in office only a matter of months when he decided to call an election.

Unlike Mr Johnson, Baldwin already had a comfortable majority in the House of Commons.

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(PA graphic)

Baldwin’s decision to go to the polls was for personal as well as political reasons.

He had recently become convinced of the need to introduce tariffs, in order – as he saw it – to protect British industry against foreign competition.

His government had previously pledged not to introduce tariffs, however.

Baldwin saw it as only proper to ask the country to endorse his change of mind, and as such called a snap general election.

But his gamble backfired and when the country voted on December 6 1923, the result was a hung parliament and ultimately a Labour minority government.

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Stanley Baldwin pictured in 1923 (PA)

A general election on December 12 2019 would mean a dissolution of Parliament on November 7.

If MPs fail to trigger an election by November 7, however, polling day would almost certainly slip into early next year.

A delay of even a few days would push polling day into the week immediately before Christmas – a scenario politicians would probably be keen to avoid.

Instead, MPs could hold the trigger-vote in their first week back in the new year, with dissolution potentially on January 9 2020 and a general election on February 13 – though this could create a further dilemma, as the election campaign might coincide with the UK’s possible exit from the EU on January 31.

PA

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