In case you weren’t aware, if there is a snap general election, then I will be a candidate fighting to win a seat. So I have a “slight” personal interest in the following.
There’s a lot of talk right now about Theresa May calling a snap general election. Number 10 announced today that Article 50 will be triggered on 29 March. Because of the snazzily titled Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, one will preclude the other.
Under law, 25 working days must elapse between the dissolution of Parliament and the date of the General Election. Because of Easter and the May Bank Holiday, this means that the latest date Parliament can be dissolved is Monday 27th March. Parliament is generally prorogued (ie. suspended) a couple of days before then. Once Parliament is dissolved, Government is put into purdah, meaning that no new activity or policy can be implemented.
So, if Parliament is dissolved on Monday 27th, Article 50 cannot be triggered on Wednesday 29th. If Article 50 is to be triggered on Wednesday 29th, the earliest that a general election can be called will be after that event on that day – which might cause other questions if a response needs to be formally received and processed – which means that the earliest date for a general election would then be Saturday May 6th.
It’s only habit that elections are held on Thursdays. This is not constrained by law. The 1931 General Election was held on a Tuesday, the 1924 one on a Wednesday.