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Your election questions answered


What happens now an election has been called for 4 July? Our Market Affairs team answer some of the questions you may have about the impact of Rishi Sunak’s announcement on the day-to-day functioning of politics in the UK. 

When does Parliament shut up shop? 

Parliament will be prorogued today, marking the end of the parliamentary session. 

Parliament will then be formally dissolved on 30th May, resulting in all business in both the Commons and the Lords ending, and all MPs losing their seats. 

What happens to legislation? 

‘Wash-up’ – the period between an election being called and Parliament being prorogued (effectively yesterday and today) – is when Parliament goes through any unfinished business before dissolution. 

There is usually a rush to pass legislation to get it onto the statute book; this requires co-operation between parties to agree on which bills they will support through this expedited legislative process. 

The following bills are expected to receive Royal Assent today; Victims and Prisoners Bill, Digital Markets Bill, Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill, Media Bill, and the Finance (No. 2) Bill are all set to pass. 

The remaining active Government bills are not scheduled to be debated in the Commons or Lords, including the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, the Football Governance Bill and the Tobacco and Vapes Bill. 

Any parliamentary business not completed by the end of ‘wash-up’ will not enter into law and cannot be continued into the next Parliament. 

What happens to Select Committees? 

When Parliament is dissolved pending a General Election, membership of committees lapses and work on their inquiries ceases. House of Lords select committees also technically cease to exist at the end of each session. 

The point of contact for departments continues to be the Committee Clerk, who remains in post to process the administrative work of the committee, including the publication after dissolution of any reports that the committee had authorised prior to dissolution. 

It is for the newly appointed committee to decide whether to publish government responses to its predecessor's reports. There may be some delay before the committee is reconstituted. New committees may decide not to pursue the work programme of its predecessor. 

Do we still have ministers? 

While MPs lose their roles, government Ministers remain in post until a new government is formed after the election. Even MPs standing down at the election – such as Chris Heaton Harris, the Northern Ireland Secretary, and Alister Jack, the Scottish Secretary – will remain in post until a new administration takes charge. 

What happens to the House of Lords? 

Members of the House of Lords retain their positions, but all business in the House ends. 

When does purdah kick in? 

Government activity is restricted during the campaign in what is known as the ‘pre-election period’ (previously known as purdah). This is to ensure public money is not used to support the campaign of the party in power and to maintain the impartiality of the civil service. The pre-election period will officially begin tomorrow. The civil service will use this time to pour over manifestos and prepare themselves for a change of government. 

Devolved administrations (see below), such as the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland Governments, also exercise caution during this time so as not to unduly influence the result. Local authorities are required to follow statutory guidance about publicity during this period. The Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity includes a list of rules they must follow, including not using public funds to mount publicity campaigns that seek to influence voters. 

What happens to open Government consultations? 

If a government consultation is ongoing at the time of a general election, it will continue as normal. However, in accordance with purdah, departments should not take any steps during an election period that will compete with parliamentary candidates for the public’s attention. This effectively means a ban on publicity for those consultations still in process. 

To ensure consultations are not impacted negatively by restrictions, departments may choose to put out extra publicity after the election to reignite interest or prolong the consultation period. 

Are non-governmental organisations constrained by purdah? 

No, and their announcements may impact the tone and tenor of the campaign. For example, the Bank of England will announce their decision on interest rates during the election on 20 June, with the expectation that the Monetary Policy Committee will hold them at 5.25%. In a campaign where the economy is a central issue, this could make a real difference. 

Are the devolved administrations impacted? 

As the devolved administrations in Stormont, Holyrood, and Cardiff are not up for election, business will continue as usual. Where there is a crossover in legislative matters, devolved governments will exercise more caution and pause 

to respect purdah. For example, the Labour Government in Wales during purdah will be careful not to announce or advance any legislation which would bolster Labour’s chances at the election. 

On matters of national security, cooperation between and activity within governments continues, with public safety superseding restrictions. 

What happens to councils? 

During an election, the effect of using council resources, holding events, or launching consultations will be considered carefully. There is no blanket ban, and the ordinary functions of councils can continue, but councils should assess whether it could be perceived that they are spending public money to influence the outcome of the election. 

When do candidates have to be picked? 

Candidates need to be picked by 7th June, meaning that parties will have a two-week period to pick and nominate candidates. Nomination signatures and paperwork will also be required by the deadline. Any candidate who has not submitted the official paperwork by then will not be on the ballot. 

Labour has approximately 100 general election candidates left to publicly announce, with some still to be selected by the Party. Panels of three from Labour’s National Executive Committee will draw up shortlists for security checks, and then interview successfully vetted candidates next Wednesday and Thursday. Labour is hoping to have every candidate selected by 31 May. The Conservatives have around 190 posts to fill. 

When are manifestos launched? 

There is no set date for the launch of manifestos, but since 1997 manifestos have been launched between 18 and 29 days before the election. On the current timeframe, that means we can expect manifestoes at any point from 5th June until 16th June. Since 1997, the Conservatives and Labour have released their manifestos within a few days of each other. 

Will there be TV debates? 

There is no requirement for TV debates – famously Boris Johnson decided not to turn up to one and was replaced by a block of ice – but the broadcasters will aim to hold them. 

Quite how they will fit them in given the broadcasting agenda is dominated by this summer’s European Football Championships which starts on June 14th remains to be seen. 

The Conservative camp has offered a weekly debate between the leaders, and with a 6-week campaign, it would be the highest number of debates ever held during a campaign. Unwilling to expose themselves to that much risk, Labour have rejected this idea, instead proposing the same format as the last election: one head-to-head debate on the BBC, and another on ITV. Jeremy Hunt is also keen to organise a debate between him and Rachel Reeves, an unprecedented head-to-head between the Chancellor and the woman who wants his job. 

What happens on election day? 

On the day polling stations will be open from 7 am and close at 10 pm. For the first time in a general election, ID will be required to vote. 

Votes can also be cast via proxy or postal ballot. Some councils are quick off the mark to print postal ballots, so some voters may receive their ballots by 12 June. 

Election results will begin to come in after 10pm on 4 July, and the result will be known by the morning of 5 July. 

When is Parliament likely to resume after an election? 

Parliament will return on 9 July, with new MPs being sworn in and taking up their seats in the House of Commons. Just over a week later, the State Opening of Parliament should take place on 17 July, when the King will announce the intentions of the next Government. 

Will there be a summer recess? 

The Sunak Government had previously planned for recess to start on July 23rd. A new Labour administration may hold to that original plan and take the summer to properly look under the bonnet of various departments. 

Will there be any impact on party conference? 

Conference season should proceed as normal meaning Parliament will likely only be back in session for two weeks in September if recess begins in July. 


If you have any other questions not answered here or want to know more about how our Market Affairs team can help you, please get in touch. 

Samantha Ramen, Partner 


Natalie Larnder, Head of Market Affairs 




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