Power of the British Prime Minister Essay

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Power of the British Prime Minister

The prime minister is that person who leads the majority party in the House of Commons, or who commands a majority of support in that house. PMs continue in office until they resign or concede a defeat after a general election. They also may reign after losing a motion of no confidence.

In the 19th Century, Bagehot wrote (in the English constitution 1867), that parliamentary government had been superseded by Cabinet Government - that the theoretical sovereignty of parliament had been delegated to the executive for all practical purposes. The powers of government, and its cohesion under the convention of collective responsibility, ensured that the government
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The PM heads the cabinet which comes from the majority party, and through party discipline the leadership can usually ensure that their backbenchers support the governments policies. In this way the government has virtual control over parliaments theoretical legal sovereignty.

The powers of the PM are formidable, they cover the cabinet itself, the wider cabinet system and the party organisation: the PM is not only the head of government and its leading spokesman, but also the leading personality in the commons the instigator of important government policies and the representative of the government both home and abroad.

However the dominance of the PM is not absolute, and there are significant limitations upon his powers. Britain is a pluralistic state and purports to be a democracy, where there is a system of parliamentary government and where the government remain responsible to the commons and ultimately to the people. The term pluralism implies that power is divided rather than concentrated; that authority lies in various institutions and is not monopolised by just one.

It is the PM who is drawn from the Commons and to the Commons that the PM is accountable.
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