Site icon Premium Politics

Japa: What Nigerians should know about 2024 UK elections

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

The United Kingdom is due for a general election in 2024, but the exact timing is a matter of intense debate among political watchers.


This event may decide the fate of many young Nigerians who intend to relocate to the country from next year, as a change of government may mean change of policies.


Recent figures published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed that a total of 141,000 Nigerians migrated to the United Kingdom between June 2022 and the year ending June 2023.


“In the year ending June 2023, the top five non-EU nationalities for immigration flows into the UK were: Indian (253,000), Nigerian (141,000), Chinese (89,000), Pakistani (55,000) and Ukrainian (35,000),” Office for UK National Statistics said in a report published in November.


The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has to weigh various factors before deciding when to seek a new mandate from the voters.


What Nigerians should know about the 2024 election in the UK:


– What is the deadline? –

A UK parliament can last for up to five years.


The previous national vote was on December 12, 2019. The next one must take place by January 28, 2025, which is five years after the current parliament convened for the first time, leaving room for campaigning.


– How does an election happen? –

Sunak will officially request the monarch, King Charles III, to “dissolve” parliament, most likely making a trip to Buckingham Palace for that purpose.


It is customary for the prime minister — the chief of the largest party in parliament — to declare the election to the country from outside Number 10 Downing Street.


– What follows then? –

The declaration kicks off five weeks of campaigning. Existing MPs lose their status and become contenders if they want to run for office again.


The government goes into a “pre-election period”, formerly known as “purdah”, which limits what it can do before the next government is chosen.


– How is the winner determined? –

The UK consists of four nations: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


They are divided into 650 areas, called constituencies.


Each voter can choose one candidate under the “first-past-the-post” system.


The candidate with the most votes in each constituency or seat gets elected to parliament to represent that area.


A party needs a majority of at least 326 seats to form the government and make its leader the prime minister.


If no party achieves that, then the one with the most MPs usually joins forces with a smaller group, as the Conservatives did with the Liberal Democrats in 2010.


– When will Sunak make the call? –

The Institute for Government think tank suggests three possible windows for the vote: May 2024, autumn 2024, and January 2025.


A May election, coinciding with planned local elections, would dodge the danger of poor results in those polls hurting the government’s image beforehand.


Some also think that Sunak might be tempted to call an early election if hardline Tory rebels try to topple him over his failure to toughen up his plan to send migrants to Rwanda.


An autumn election, probably in October to avoid clashing with the US election, would give Sunak more time to deliver on his main promises of boosting the economy, reducing National Health Service waiting lists and stopping migrant boats.


It would also mean Sunak would have been prime minister for nearly two years, which sounds better than 18 months and might matter to him.


Winter elections are uncommon in the UK and a campaign over Christmas would not be welcomed by voters and candidates, making January the least likely of the three options.


But in the end, Sunak will opt for whenever he thinks he has the best odds of winning.


– Which party has the edge? –

The Conservatives, who have been in power since 2010, have been lagging behind the main opposition Labour Party by double figures in most opinion polls for more than a year now.


That is mainly because of the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades and Tory squabbles that have led to five prime ministers since the 2016 Brexit vote, rather than strong support for Labour.


The smart money then is on Labour leader Keir Starmer becoming the next prime minister.


But with potentially more than a year before voting day, a lot could change to narrow the gap.


The Tories might hope that their best chance comes from indifference among voters for both leaders — which could lead to a “hung parliament”, when no party gets a majority.

Exit mobile version