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When was the last UK general election, and what happened?

Grant Shapps has said that it is unlikely that the Conservatives will win the 2024 general election.

Speaking to Times Radio on Monday, he said it is “possible to win the election”, before adding it is “not the most likely outcome”, saying: “I’m a realist.”

When asked if a Conservative victory was unlikely he replied: “I think that’s the realistic position, isn’t it? I mean, I live in the real world. So you know, let’s not try and pretend black is white.”

Mr Shapps also said he stands by the comments he made last week that Labour could secure a “supermajority”.

He said: “We’re still fighting for absolutely every single vote, which is absolutely the right thing to do and warning of the dangers of Labour. But what I said last week stands, a blank cheque, a supermajority is a dangerous thing, particularly when we already know they have these plans to change the council tax bands.”

The news comes days after a new British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey revealed that public trust and confidence in government and politicians is at a record low.

“Partygate” lies, failing public services, Brexit and the cost of living crisis are issues of concern flagged by Britons polled by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen).

Gillian Prior, interim chief executive of NatCen, said: “The last four years of parliament have left their imprint on public opinion.

“From the NHS to immigration, from inequality to tax and spend, people’s attitudes have been affected by the experience of a pandemic, a cost of living crisis, and political turmoil.

“The period has left them asking themselves just how well they are being governed. Irrespective of its partisan colour, the next government will have much to do if it is to meet people’s concerns about the many difficulties they feel the country has been facing.”

When was the last general election?

Boris Johnson, U.K. prime minister, gestures after delivering a speech outside number 10 Downing Street in London, U.K., on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. Johnson won an emphatic election victory that redraws the political map of Britain and gives the prime minister the mandate he needs to pull the U.K. out of the European Union next month. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Boris Johnson enters No 10 after a landslide victory in the 2019 general election (Photo: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The last UK general election was held on 12 December, 2019. It saw Boris Johnson (Conservative) go head-to-head with Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), with devastating results for the Labour Party.

MPs voted to call a snap general election in a bid to resolve their Brexit deadlock, following the 2016 referendum which saw 52 per cent of UK voters opting to “leave” the EU in 2016.

Frustration had begun to grow at the slow departure of the UK from the economic and political union, an issue Mr Johnson seized upon in his campaigning.

Labour promised a second referendum to offer people another opportunity to vote on the controversial proposal.

Theresa May, who had taken over from David Cameron following his 2016 resignation in response to the Brexit referendum result, stepped down in July 2019 following her party’s poor performance in the European Parliament election that year.

Mr Johnson won the Conservative leadership election, becoming prime minister on 24 July, 2019.

Mr Johnson campaigned under the slogan “Get Brexit Done” and promised that the UK would leave the European Union by January 2020.

Elsewhere, an ongoing row over alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party resulted in the Jewish Labour Movement announcing it would not campaign for Labour. The Conservative Party was also criticised for not doing enough to tackle alleged Islamophobia within the party.

While Mr Corbyn had a small hardcore fanbase, a large swathe of the electorate were not convinced by him.

A review of Labour’s 2019 defeat by a group of MPs, union leaders, officials and activists called Labour Together, produced a 154-page report of findings and recommendations.

It found that by September 2019, 67 per cent of voters disliked Mr Corbyn, while only 12 per cent liked him.

It linked this to Mr Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism within the party, Labour’s Brexit position and a perception of disunity that saw the defection of some MPs to the short-lived Independent Group.

The report said research suggested that an “intense” dislike of Mr Corbyn was a key factor amongst voters who switched from Labour to the Conservatives.

A “final say” referendum was also cited by some voters as being divisive and “dithering”.

What happened at the last general election?

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in north London on December 17, 2019 for the first full day of the new parliament following the general election. - Corbyn will face Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons today after Labour was handed its worst defeat in a general election since World war II, forcing the Labour leader to announce a plan for his departure. He also faces a potentially uncomfortable meeting with his own Labour colleagues later in the day. (Photo by Tolga AKMEN / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeremy Corbyn leaves his home in December 2019 following his party’s defeat at the general election (Photo: Getty)

The governing Conservative Party won with a landslide victory, securing 365 seats, their highest number and proportion since 1987, and their highest share of the popular vote since 1979.

Many of these votes were won in long-held Labour seats, dubbed the “Red Wall”, which had voted strongly for Brexit in the 2016 EU referendum.

Labour won just 202 seats, its lowest number and proportion since 1935.

The Scottish National Party won 48 of the 59 seats, while the Liberal Democrats won just 11 seats.

In his victory speech, Mr Johnson said he was “humbled” by the many voters who are “not natural Tories” but who decided to back the party.

He insisted that the Conservatives “must not” let its new supporters down.

“I have a message to all those who voted for us yesterday, especially those who voted for us Conservatives, one-nation Conservatives for the first time,” he said.

“You may only have lent us your vote and you may not think of yourself as a natural Tory.

“And as I think I said 11 years ago to the people of London when I was elected in what was thought of as a Labour city, your hand may have quivered over the ballot paper before you put your cross in the Conservative box, and you may intend to return to Labour next time round.

“And if that is the case, I am humbled that you have put your trust in me and that you have put your trust in us. And I, and we, will never take your support for granted.”

He continued: “And I will make it my mission to work night and day, flat out, to prove you right in voting for me this time, and to earn your support in the future. And I say to you that in this election your voice has been heard and about time too,” he said, moving onto his party’s Brexit promise.

“Because we politicians have squandered the last three years, three-and-a-half years, in squabbles about Brexit – we’ve even been arguing about arguing, and about the tone of our arguments.

“And I will put an end to all that nonsense, and we will get Brexit done on time by the 31st of January, no ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

Mr Johnson also promised to deliver 50,000 more nurses, 50 million more GP surgery appointments, 40 new hospitals, 20,000 more police, record spending on schools and for the UK to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

In an open letter to the Mirror, Mr Corbyn apologised over the heavy Labour defeat.

He wrote: “I will make no bones about it. The result was a body blow for everyone who so desperately needs real change in our country.

“I’m sorry that we came up short and I take my responsibility for it.”

But he insisted he remained “proud” of the party’s campaign, and that it had offered a message of “hope” in the election.

The Labour Together report stated that the party had a “mountain to climb” to return to power.

It cited negative perceptions of Mr Corbyn’s leadership, doubts about the manifesto and the party’s stance on Brexit as integral to the party’s defeat.

“Labour’s electoral coalition had been fracturing for a long time and was broken in 2019,” it reads. “We were rejected by many of the communities we were founded to represent. We lost all types of voters everywhere compared with 2017, except in London.”

It concluded: “We believe there is a way ahead for Labour to win the next election, but the road is hard and the journey will not be easy.”

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