Boris Johnson set to scrap fixed-term Parliaments Act

Boris Johnson could be given the power to call an early election under a new law proposed by the government.

Legislation proposed today will abolish the current law that governs how UK Parliamentary elections are called.

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 took away the prime minister's power to hold an early election without the approval of MPs.

Last month MPs warned against handing the power to set the election date back to prime ministers.

The government said their new bill would reinstate "tried-and-tested constitutional arrangements" and prevent parliamentary stalemates.

Minister for the Constitution & Devolution, Chloe Smith, said: "The Fixed-term Parliaments Act caused constitutional chaos last year which, when combined with total gridlock in parliament, meant the previous government couldn’t deliver what it was asked to do."

"Ultimately, at critical moments for our country, we trust the public to decide. So we are going back to the system that lets elections happen when they are needed. We want to return to constitutional arrangements that give people more confidence in what to expect, and more security."

The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act was brought in by then-Prime Minister David Cameron to reassure his Liberal Democrat coalition partners that he would not call an early election.

The law states that there can only be an early election if the government lost a vote of confidence or if it is supported by a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons.

It also created a fixed five year period between elections.

Before the act, prime ministers would have to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament - essentially meaning prime ministers could call an election whenever they wanted.

At the 2019 election, the Conservatives promised to get rid of the law arguing that it had "led to paralysis at a time the country needed decisive action".

Last autumn, Boris Johnson tried to call an election following several failed attempts to get his Brexit deal approved in Parliament.

MPs initially rejected, but later accepted, his efforts to call an early election in order to break the Brexit deadlock.

The House of Commons also approved an early election in 2017 at the request of Mr Johnson's predecessor Theresa May.

Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Lord True, said: "The Fixed-term Parliaments Act was brought forward under unique circumstances and was an exception, not the rule. As we saw last year, it resulted in far more confusion than the tried-and-tested constitutional arrangements it had hastily swept aside.

We are delivering what we pledged in our manifesto and have today presented arrangements that provide legal, constitutional and political certainty around the process for enacting a general election."