BRITAIN will head to the polls next week for a general election which promises to define the political landscape for decades to come. So what would a Tory minority look like?
According to the opinion polls for the December 12 general election, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is on track to win an outright majority in the election. However, the polls have also shown a recent dip in support for the Tories, allowing Labour and other smaller parties to catch up, increasing the chances of another minority result.
What is a minority government?
A minority government is one where the governing party has more seats than any other, but still less than half the total.
To form a majority government in the UK a party needs 326 seats – any less and they’re a minority.
If this happens, the country will be on course for what is known as a ‘hung parliament’.
What are the possible solutions?
In the case of a hung parliament, the leader of the party with the most seats is still given the opportunity to form a government.
This can take two forms: one option is a formal coalition with other parties, in which the coalition partners share ministerial jobs and push through a shared agenda.
The other option is a more informal arrangement, known as ‘confidence and supply’, in which the smaller parties agree to support the main legislation, such as a budget and Queen’s speech put forward by the largest party, but do not formally take part in government.
So what might happen with a Tory minority?
In the event of a Tory minority, we’ll likely see Boris Johnson furiously trying to generate confidence and supply deals in the background.
Chances are, however, that he’ll have a difficult time of it.
In the 2017 hung parliament, Theresa May turned to Northern Ireland’s DUP to prop up her government.
Now, however, DUP support has crumbled, as the party rejected Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Who might he turn to for support?
Professor Alex de Ruyter, Director of the Centre for Brexit Studies, spoke to Express.co.uk about the options.
He said: “I think if there is a hung parliament and the DUP will not support his deal, then it is just possible that he could get the support of the Lib Dems in exchange for agreeing to another referendum.”
This will not be welcome news to Brexiteers, including Mr Johnson himself, but he may be left with little other option.
Professor de Ruyter added: “Jo Swinson has ruled out working with Jeremy Corbyn but she hasn’t done so with Johnson – the Lib Dems were in coalition with the Tories only five years ago.”
He said that while the parties might seem to be worlds apart in terms of policy, it’s not necessarily the case.
He said: “Apart from Brexit, there are many areas that they could agree on.
“Senior Lib Dems such as Vince Cable still defend austerity from the years they were in Government so it could happen.”
Ms Swinson has said her MPs would not actively support a Labour or Tory programme of government as she believes neither Jeremy Corbyn nor Boris Johnson are fit to be prime minister.
However, she has not ruled out allowing a Conservative or Labour leader to take office – by abstaining in a vote on their first Queen’s Speech – if they agreed to hold another EU referendum.
However, this week Welsh Lib Dem leader said her party would keep the Tories in power “over my dead body”.
Jane Dodds said she was “deeply ashamed” at the Lib Dems’ role in the coalition government of 2010 to 2015.
If the Lib Dems refuse an agreement, it’s likely Mr Johnson would be out in the cold and potentially have to forego his shot at delivering Brexit.
Professor de Ruyter said: “Other than the Lib Dems, I can’t see any other party potentially propping up a Johnson government.”