Whether you’re a budding political scientist or you’d prefer to never hear the word “Brexit” again, it’s impossible to have missed the news that we have a general election coming up before Christmas. So…
What does that mean? Well, all of the seats in the House of Commons – so 650 members of parliament (or MP) roles – are up for grabs.
On Election Day you vote for a local MP from a list of those standing in your area. These are usually affiliated with a political party, but some are independent. These are the people who’ll be deciding on public policy and laws, on everything from the future of the NHS to the dreaded “B”-word.
When is it? The UK general election is on the 12th December 2019. They’re usually held every five years, but this one has been called early. So was the last. And the one before it…
Who can vote? If you’re over the age of 18, so in your last year of sixth form, have started uni or an apprenticeship scheme or have left studying to start work, chances are you’ll be eligible. You also have to be a British citizen, qualifying citizen of the Commonwealth or Republic of Ireland.
How do you register? To be eligible, you have to register to vote on the GOV.UK website (link) by midnight, 26th November. The process only takes about five minutes.
If you’re away at uni, you can also register for a postal vote (where you’re sent out a form to fill in and post back, rather than heading out to a polling station and ticking the box in person) or vote by proxy, where someone else votes in your place.
Where do you vote? If you’re voting in person, the polling card you get in the post before the election date will tell you where your local polling station is. They’re usually in school halls, village halls and churches.
You give the friendly people manning the station your name and address, and they give you a ballot paper with a list of candidates on it. All you need to do is pick your candidate, put an X in the corresponding box and pop your paper in the ballot box when you’re done. Simples.
The Independent have reported strong incentives to encourage young people, particularly uni students, to register to vote. We’re talking free food, drinks, and ‘a chance to pet a goat’ (see UCL’s “goats for votes” initiative… in exchange for signing up to vote.
And that’s no surprise, given the impact young people can have on election results. Think the 2017 elections, where the turnout of 18-24 year old voters was at a 25-year high.
So we know when and how to vote, but with so much information thrown around, who are you meant to be voting for? Well, the BBC have created a handy summary outlining the parties’ standpoints on Brexit. Here’s what they have to say…
Conservative: Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants the UK to leave the European Union (EU) with the revised deal he agreed
Labour: If it wins the election, Labour wants to renegotiate Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal and put it to another public vote. It says it will achieve this within six months.
SNP: The SNP is pro-Remain and wants the UK to stay a member of the EU. It has been campaigning for another referendum on Brexit.
Liberal Democrats: The Liberal Democrats have pledged to cancel Brexit if they win power at the general election.
Democratic Unionist Party: The DUP had an agreement with the Conservatives whereby it lent its support in the Commons.
The Independent Group for Change: This party is made up of MPs who left the Conservatives and Labour, in part because of their positions on Brexit. They back another referendum, or “People’s Vote” and want the UK to remain in the EU.
Plaid Cymru: The party backs remaining in the EU, despite Wales voting “out” in the referendum. It wants a further referendum and to Remain.
Green Party: The party’s one MP, Caroline Lucas, has been a vocal campaigner for another referendum, and believes the UK should stay in the EU.
Brexit Party: The Brexit Party wants the UK to leave the EU without a deal, in what it calls a “clean-break Brexit”
Want to read more? Head here.
LUCY HARDING is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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