The Conservatives must realise how much people feel excluded from their ‘democracy’

Editorial: The next prime minister needs to recognise the limits of their mandate

<p>A majority of the people say that there should be a general election immediately after the new prime minister is chosen</p>

A majority of the people say that there should be a general election immediately after the new prime minister is chosen

The British people understand the principles of parliamentary democracy. They know that we do not have a presidential system, and that the authority of the prime minister stems from a majority in the House of Commons. They know that whoever is chosen as Conservative Party leader will command a majority in parliament and so the government will carry on, constitutionally and democratically.

However, a majority of the people – 56 per cent, in our Savanta opinion poll – say that there should be a general election immediately after the new prime minister is chosen. There are good reasons for this. One is that it is better for a new leader to have their own mandate. It is not constitutionally necessary, but it is better for the country, and for the leader, that there should be the clarity and authority that comes from having led their party in a successful general election.

Gordon Brown and Theresa May both felt this keenly, although neither ducking nor holding an election, respectively, worked out well for them. Whoever succeeds Boris Johnson will no doubt feel it too, while being wary of their predecessors’ experiences. The issue of a mandate is particularly relevant in the case of Liz Truss, who is standing for the leadership on a platform of sweeping change, but also one of returning to part of the mandate of the 2019 election manifesto, namely the promise not to raise taxes. The best way to resolve that tension would be for Ms Truss to lead her party into a general election on a manifesto that she has written herself.

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