The Prime Ministers Power

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Primus inter pares – ‘ A first among equals’ In the UK prime minister is considered to be a ‘first among equals’ as they act as a chairman of their ministers. Cabinet government – A system whereby the power of the executive is vested in the cabinet who hold collective responsibility, the prime minister is still ‘first among equals’, he has further powers than his ministers such as patronage but cannot act unilaterally. Royal prerogative – powers exercised in the name of the crown these are the power to : -declare war and negotiate treaties -dissolve parliament - appoint government ministers - appoint judges 2007 ‘governance of Britain’ green paper included proposals to allow parliament to scrutinise how ministers use prerogative powers. Collective responsibility – Secrecy – Ministers must keep details of cabinet meetings secret Binding decisions – Once a decision is made by the cabinet system it is adopted by all cabinet and junior ministers even if they were not involved. Those who are unable to accept this are expected to resign or to be dismissed; senior ministers who have resigned include Nigel Lawson (1989), Sir Geoffrey Howe (1990), and Robin Cook (2003). In the final years of Tony Blair’s ministry a junior minister Tom Watson resigned in an attempt to force Blair out, under Brown in 2009 James Purnell the Secretary of state and work and pensions resigned to try and force Brown to resign. Confidence vote – The entire government must resign if it is defeated in a vote of confidence and call a general election. Last happened in 1979 under James Callaghan’s Labour government, after a disastrous bill on Scottish devolution. Powers of the PM Appoint and dismiss Ministers Appoint and structure cabinet Committees Control Cabinet Agendas Royal Prerogatives Initiate legislation Control of MPs through Whips office Could dissolve Parliament but
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