This morning I received the following question via the contact form:
What happens if a Government can’t be formed by the time Parliament meets?
This is an interesting question. In most cases, the outgoing Prime Minister resigns the day after the General Election, and the Queen immediately sends for his successor. But this is only possible when one party has a clear mandate to form an administration.
In the event of a hung Parliament, things could get dicey. In 2010, for example, the General Election was held on May 6, but David Cameron wasn’t asked to form a government until May 11 since the Liberal Democrats were engaged in coalition talks with both Labour and the Conservatives. In the end, it was a reasonably smooth transition.
However, it might not be so easy this time around. The polls suggest that it might take a coalition of three or even four parties to form a workable Government. If that’s the case, it could take a lot longer to negotiate a coalition agreement.
The new Parliament is scheduled to assemble on May 18, but that’s not an ironclad deadline. If it’s still not clear who should form a Government by then, the Queen could postpone the meeting of Parliament by a proclamation under the Prorogation Act 1867 in order to give the parties more time to sort things out.