Could there be an early election? How Boris has begun gearing up

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The next general election isn’t due to take place in the UK before 2024, and after Boris Johnson and the Tories won a stonking majority in the 2019 vote, it might seem surprising they would consider an earlier poll at all. But rumours of an early election have persisted, increasing in recent weeks as the Conservative Campain Headquarters (CCHQ) beefs up its staffing.

Last week, CCHQ appointed a new communications director, according to Politico.

Alex Wild, a former special advisor to Home Secretary Priti Patel and ex-Justice Secretary Robert Buckland is tipped to take over the role with “energy and drive”.

The move completes the gearing up within CCHQ after Ross Kempsell was appointed political director earlier this year and Lucy Noakes became SpAd to new Chairman Oliver Dowden.

So do these moves indicate a party working furiously in the background to prepare for an early election, or one just keeping its best team together?

Lee Cain, a former Downing Street communications director, told PRWeek: “It’s a really shrewd move to put [Alex Wild] in that role.

“In that job, you want somebody who’s very hungry and driven and can really take the fight to Labour from a political point of view, which I think is something that has probably been lacking a little bit in CCHQ.”

He added: “He will bring a lot of energy and a lot of drive. He’s a natural creative story-driver and is well-liked by the Lobby.”

Mr Cain described Mr Wild as “well-liked and very capable”, is set to have a “key role at Number 10” and will act as a bridge between Downing Street and CCHQ.

And Gilkes Kenningham, a former Conservative Party director of communications, said this was a “key moment” for the Conservatives “to ram home their competitive advantage over Labour, to get battle-hardened and campaign-ready”.

This news comes as the Prime Minister continues his push to take control of when an election is called back into his own hands.

In September, MPs voted to approve the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill, which scraps laws introduced in 2011 to fix each Parliament to five years.

The bill is still going through the motions before becoming a law, but if it is given the thumbs up all round, it will see the Fixed Terms Parliament Act (FTPA) repealed and give Boris Johnson the power to call an election whenever he likes.

The FTPA is a law that states general elections are to be held every five years, unless there are special circumstances – such as in 2017 when a majority of MPs approved an early election which saw Theresa May lose her majority.

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A separate act was passed to allow Boris Johnson to go to the country – call an election – in 2019.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto – as well as the Labour one – promised to repeal the act and restore the powers to the Government.

The ability to control the timing of a general election empowers an incumbent government to choose a date they believe most favourable to their re-election.

And while Boris Johnson’s time at the helm has not been without its fair share of curveballs, the Tories maintain a lead in the polls.

However, an early election isn’t expected to surprise the nation too soon – speculation in Westminster persists that the country will be called on to vote in 2023 when a constituency boundary review is due to be published.

Earlier this month, Tory chair Oliver Dowden refused to rule out an early election.

Speaking to Sky News from the Conservative Party conference in early October, Mr Dowden said Mr Johnson had told him to “make sure” the party was “ready to go for an election whenever it comes”.

When pressed on whether that would mean an early general election, he said: “Right now, we are absolutely focused on getting on with the job of making sure that we deliver for the British people.

“I can assure that the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, the Home Secretary, they are not speculating about elections.

“Day in, day out, sleeves are rolled up. They are focused on delivering what matters to people.”

When asked again for a third time if there would be a general election in 2023, Mr Dowden said: “It’s not my job to call an election.

“We know full well that the usual electoral cycle would take us through to 2024 but that’s entirely up to the prime minister.”

But while the people could be called on to do their duty at the polls, chances are they won’t be too happy about it.

Recent polling from YouGov shows that, as of September 26, 51 percent of people polls said there should not be an election before the planned 2024 polling.

Just 28 percent think there should be an early election, the poll showed.

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