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The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the
head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presi ...
in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
. The prime minister advises the
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
on the exercise of much of the
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi- ...
, chairs the
Cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transparent glass sheets or transparent polycarbonate sheets * Filing ...
and selects its ministers. As modern prime ministers hold office by virtue of their ability to command the confidence of the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
, they sit as a
member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency. In many countries with Bicameralism, bicameral parliaments, this term implies members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different titl ...
. The office of prime minister is not established by any statute or constitutional document, but exists only by long-established
convention Convention may refer to: * Convention (norm), a custom or tradition, a standard of presentation or conduct ** Treaty, an agreement in international law * Convention (meeting), meeting of a (usually large) group of individuals and/or companies in a ...

convention
, whereby the reigning monarch appoints as prime minister the person most likely to command the confidence of the House of Commons; this individual is typically the leader of the political party or
coalition The term "coalition" is the denotation for a group formed when two or more people, factions, states, political parties, militaries etc. agree to work together temporarily in a partnership to achieve a common goal. The word coalition connotes a co ...
of parties that holds the largest number of seats in that chamber. The prime minister is ''
ex officio An ''ex officio'' member is a member of a body (notably a board, committee, council) who is part of it by virtue of holding another office. The term ''ex officio An ''ex officio'' member is a member of a body (notably a board, committee, council) ...
'' also
First Lord of the Treasury The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase o ...
,
Minister for the Civil Service In the Government of the United Kingdom, the minister for the civil service is responsible for regulations regarding Her Majesty's Civil Service, the role of which is to assist the governments of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of G ...
and the minister responsible for
national security National security or national defence is the security and Defence (military), defence of a sovereign state, nation state, including its Citizenship, citizens, economy, and institutions, which is regarded as a duty of government. Originally c ...
. Indeed, certain privileges, such as
residency Residency may refer to: * Residency (domicile), the act of establishing or maintaining a residence in a given place ** Permanent residency, indefinite residence within a country despite not having citizenship Education * Residency (medicine), a ...
of
10 Downing Street 10 Downing Street in London London is the and of and the . It stands on the in south-east England at the head of a down to the , and has been a major settlement for two millennia. The , its ancient core and financial centre, was f ...

10 Downing Street
, are accorded to prime ministers by virtue of their position as First Lord of the Treasury. In 2019, the office of
Minister for the Union The Minister for the Union is a position created by Boris Johnson Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (; born 19 June 1964) is a British politician and writer serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservativ ...
was established;
Boris Johnson Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (; born 19 June 1964) is a British politician and writer serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government ...

Boris Johnson
became the first prime minister to hold this title.


History

The position of prime minister was not created; it evolved slowly and organically over three hundred years due to numerous
Acts of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislat ...
, political developments, and accidents of history. The office is therefore best understood from a historical perspective. The origins of the position are found in constitutional changes that occurred during the Revolutionary Settlement (1688–1720) and the resulting shift of political power from the Sovereign to Parliament. Although the sovereign was not stripped of their ancient prerogative powers and legally remained the head of government, politically it gradually became necessary for him or her to govern through a prime minister who could command a majority in Parliament. By the 1830s, the
Westminster system The Westminster system or Westminster model is a type of parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ...
of government (or cabinet government) had emerged; the prime minister had become ''
primus inter pares ''Primus inter pares'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
'' or the first among equals in the Cabinet and the head of government in the United Kingdom. The political position of prime minister was enhanced by the development of modern political parties, the introduction of mass communication and photography. By the start of the 20th century the modern premiership had emerged; the office had become the pre-eminent position in the constitutional hierarchy in relation to the Sovereign, Parliament and Cabinet. Before 1902, the prime minister sometimes sat in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
, provided that his government could form a majority in the Commons. However, as the power of the aristocracy waned during the 19th century the convention developed that the prime minister should always sit as a Member of Parliament in the lower house, making them answerable only to the Commons in Parliament. The prime minister's authority was further enhanced by the
Parliament Act 1911 The Parliament Act 1911 (1 & 2 Geo. 5 c. 13) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make l ...

Parliament Act 1911
which marginalised the influence of the House of Lords in the law-making process.


Authority, powers and constraints

The prime minister is the head of the
United Kingdom government The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
. As such, the modern prime minister leads the Cabinet (the Executive). In addition, the prime minister leads a major political party and generally commands a majority in the House of Commons (the lower chamber of Parliament). The incumbent wields both significant legislative and executive powers. Under the British system, there is a unity of powers rather than separation. In the House of Commons, the prime minister guides the law-making process with the goal of enacting the legislative agenda of their political party. In an executive capacity, the prime minister appoints (and may dismiss) all other Cabinet members and ministers, and co-ordinates the policies and activities of all government departments, and the staff of the Civil Service. The prime minister also acts as the public "face" and "voice" of Her Majesty's Government, both at home and abroad. Solely upon the advice of the prime minister, the Sovereign exercises many statutory and prerogative powers, including high judicial, political, official and
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
ecclesiastical appointments; the conferral of peerages and some knighthoods, decorations and other important honours.


Constitutional background

The British system of government is based on an
uncodified constitution An uncodified constitution is a type of constitution where the fundamental rules often take the form of custom (law), customs, usage, precedent and a variety of statutes and legal instruments.Johari, J. C. (2006) ''New Comparative Government'', L ...
, meaning that it is not set out in any single document. The British constitution consists of many documents and most importantly for the evolution of the office of the prime minister, it is based on customs known as constitutional conventions that became accepted practice. In 1928, Prime Minister
H. H. Asquith Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (12 September 1852 – 15 February 1928) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. He was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, and he pl ...
described this characteristic of the British constitution in his memoirs:
In this country we live ... under an unwritten Constitution. It is true that we have on the Statute-book great instruments like Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, and the Bill of Rights which define and secure many of our rights and privileges; but the great bulk of our constitutional liberties and ... our constitutional practices do not derive their validity and sanction from any Bill which has received the formal assent of the King, Lords and Commons. They rest on usage, custom, convention, often of slow growth in their early stages, not always uniform, but which in the course of time received universal observance and respect.
The relationships between the prime minister and the sovereign, Parliament and Cabinet are defined largely by these unwritten conventions of the constitution. Many of the prime minister's executive and legislative powers are actually
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi- ...
s which are still formally vested in the
sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descende ...
, who remains the
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role that one adopts, or a fictional ch ...
. Despite its growing dominance in the constitutional hierarchy, the premiership was given little formal recognition until the 20th century; the
legal fiction A legal fiction is a fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language, truth i ...
was maintained that the Sovereign still governed directly. The position was first mentioned in statute only in 1917, in the schedule of the Chequers Estate Act. Increasingly during the 20th century, the office and role of Prime Minister featured in
statute law Statutory law or statute law is written law passed by a body of legislature. This is as opposed to Oral law, oral or customary law; or regulatory law promulgated by the Executive (government), executive or common law of the judiciary. Statutes may ...
and official documents; however, the prime minister's powers and relationships with other institutions still largely continue to derive from ancient royal prerogatives and historic and modern constitutional conventions. Prime ministers continue to hold the position of
First Lord of the Treasury The First Lord of the Treasury is the head of the commission Commission or commissioning may refer to: Business and contracting * Commission (remuneration), a form of payment to an agent for services rendered ** Commission (art), the purchase o ...
and, since November 1968, that of
Minister for the Civil Service In the Government of the United Kingdom, the minister for the civil service is responsible for regulations regarding Her Majesty's Civil Service, the role of which is to assist the governments of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of G ...
, the latter giving them authority over the
civil service The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leader ...
. Under this arrangement, Britain might appear to have two executives: the prime minister and the sovereign. The concept of "
the Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...

the Crown
" resolves this paradox. The Crown symbolises the state's authority to govern: to make laws and execute them, impose taxes and collect them, declare war and make peace. Before the "
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
" of 1688, the sovereign exclusively wielded the powers of the Crown; afterwards, Parliament gradually forced monarchs to assume a neutral political position. Parliament has effectively dispersed the powers of the Crown, entrusting its authority to responsible ministers (the prime minister and Cabinet), accountable for their policies and actions to Parliament, in particular the elected
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
. Although many of the sovereign's prerogative powers are still legally intact,The Sovereign's prerogative powers are sometimes called
reserve power In a parliamentary A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ' ...
s. They include the sole authority to dismiss a prime minister and government of the day in extremely rare and exceptional circumstances, and other essential powers (such as withholding Royal Assent, and summoning and proroguing Parliament) to preserve the stability of the nation. These reserve powers can be exercised without the consent of Parliament. Reserve powers, in practice, are the court of absolute last resort in resolving situations that fundamentally threaten the security and stability of the nation as a whole and are almost never used.
constitutional conventions have removed the monarch from day-to-day governance, with ministers exercising the royal prerogatives, leaving the monarch in practice with three constitutional rights: to be kept informed, to advise and to warn.


Modern premiership


Appointment

In modern times, much of the process involving prime ministerial appointments is informally governed by constitutional conventions and authoritative sources, like The Cabinet Manual, paragraphs 2.7 to 2.20 and 3.1 to 3.2. The prime minister is appointed by the monarch, through the exercise of the
royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi- ...
. In the past, the monarch has used personal choice to dismiss or appoint a prime minister (the last time being in 1834), but it is now the case that they should not be drawn into party politics. The prime minister "...holds that position by virtue of his or her ability to command the confidence of the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
, which in turn commands the confidence of the electorate, as expressed through a
general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
." By convention, the prime minister is also an MP and is normally the leader of the
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
that commands a
majority A majority, also called a simple majority to distinguish it from similar terms (see the "Related terms" section below), is the greater part, or more than half, of the total.See dictionary definitions of "majority" aMerriam-Webster
in the House of Commons.


Prime Minister's Office

The Prime Minister's Office helps the prime minister to 'establish and deliver the government's overall strategy and policy priorities, and to communicate the government's policies to Parliament, the public and international audiences'. The Prime Minister's Office is formally part of the Cabinet Office, but the boundary between its work and that of the wider Cabinet Office can be unclear; the wider Cabinet Office might carry out very similar work.
Peter Hennessy Peter John Hennessy, Baron Hennessy of Nympsfield, (born 28 March 1947) is an English historian and academic specialising in the history of government. Since 1992, he has been Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary Unive ...

Peter Hennessy
has claimed that this overall arrangement means there is in fact effectively a Prime Minister's Department, though it is not called this.


Prime Minister's Questions

Prime Minister's Questions is a constitutional convention, currently held as a single session every Wednesday at noon when the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
is sitting, in which the prime minister answers questions from
members of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) p ...
(MPs). The leader of the opposition usually asks the prime minister six questions, and the leader of the third largest parliamentary party can ask two questions. It is an occasion when the prime minister appears regularly on live television and radio. The prime minister also appears before the
Liaison Committee The Liaison Committee is a committee of the British House of Commons, the lower house of the United Kingdom Parliament. The committee consists of the chairs of the 32 Commons Select committee (United Kingdom), select committees and the chair of the ...
to answer questions about public policy.


Security and transport

The personal protection of the prime minister and former prime ministers is the responsibility of
Protection Command The Protection Command is one of the Commands within the Specialist Operations directorate of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city s ...
within the
Metropolitan Police Service The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), formerly and still commonly known as the Metropolitan Police and informally as the Met Police, the Met, Scotland Yard, or the Yard, is the territorial police force responsible for law enforcement in the ...
. The fleet of Prime Ministerial Cars provide the prime minister with a number of security features, as well as transport, and are driven by officers from this unit. Air transport for the prime minister is provided by a variety of military and civilian operators. File:Pm jag.jpg, alt=Black Jaguar car outside building, Prime Ministerial Car: Jaguar XJ LWB Sentinel File:ZZ336 VIP Voyager at RAF Brize Norton MOD 45166781.jpg, alt=White A330 plane on taxiway at airport,
Royal Air Force The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for th ...
's VIP
Airbus A330 The Airbus A330 is a wide-body aircraft A wide-body aircraft, also known as a twin-aisle aircraft, is an with a wide enough to accommodate two passenger s with seven or more seats abreast. The typical diameter is . In the typical wide- ...

Airbus A330
File:ZE700.jpg, alt=White BAe146 plane landing at airport, ZE700 from
No. 32 Squadron RAF No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron (sometimes written as No. 32 (TR) Squadron) of the Royal Air Force operates in the VIP and general air transport roles from RAF Northolt ("Ready to carry or to fight") , pushpin_map = Greater London , pushpin_la ...
File:AgustaWestland AW-109E Power Elite, UK - Air Force AN1857816.jpg, alt=White Helicopter at night on runway, AgustaWestland AW-109E Helicopter


International role

One of the roles of the prime minister is to represent the UK at home and abroad, for example at the annual G7 Summit. The prime minister makes many international trips. According to
Gus O'Donnell Augustine Thomas O'Donnell, Baron O'Donnell, (born 1 October 1952) is a former British senior civil servant The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit ra ...
, the number of overseas visits for the prime minister has gone up.


Deputy

The prime minister's second-in-command has variably served as deputy prime minister,
first secretary of state First Secretary of State is an office sometimes held by a minister in the Government of the United Kingdom ga, Rialtas na Ríochta Aontaithe sco, Govrenment o the Unitit Kinrick , image = HM Government logo.svg , image_size=220px, dat ...
and ''de facto'' deputy and at other times prime ministers have chosen not to select a permanent deputy at all, preferring ''ad hoc'' arrangements.


Succession

Nobody has the right of automatic succession to the prime ministership. However, it is generally considered by those with an interest in the matter that in the event of the death of the prime minister, it would be appropriate to appoint an interim prime minister, though there is some debate as to how to decide who this should be. According to
Rodney BrazierRodney Brazier MVO, LLD, FRHistS (born 1946) is emeritus professor of constitutional law at the University of Manchester and a Barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialise ...
, there are no procedures within government to cope with the sudden death of the prime minister. There is also no such title as acting prime minister of the United Kingdom. Despite refusing "...to discuss a hypothetical situation" with
BBC News BBC News is an operational business division of the British Broadcasting Corporation The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster Public broadcasting involves radio Radio is the technology of signali ...

BBC News
in 2011, the
Cabinet Office The Cabinet Office is a department Department may refer to: * Departmentalization, division of a larger organization into parts with specific responsibility Government and military *Department (country subdivision), a geographical and admini ...

Cabinet Office
is said to have said in 2006:
There is no single protocol setting out all of the possible implications. However, the general constitutional position is as set out below. There can be no automatic assumption about who The Queen would ask to act as caretaker Prime Minister in the event of the death of the Prime Minister. The decision is for her under the Royal Prerogative. However, there are some key guiding principles. The Queen would probably be looking for a very senior member of the Government (not necessarily a Commons Minister since this would be a short-term appointment). If there was a recognised deputy to the Prime Minister, used to acting on his behalf in his absences, this could be an important factor. Also important would be the question of who was likely to be in contention to take over long-term as Prime Minister. If the most senior member of the Government was him or herself a contender for the role of Prime Minister, it might be that The Queen would invite a slightly less senior non-contender. In these circumstances, her private secretary would probably take soundings, via the Cabinet Secretary, of members of the Cabinet, to ensure that The Queen invited someone who would be acceptable to the Cabinet to act as their chair during the caretaker period. Once the Party had elected a new leader, that person would, of course, be invited to take over as Prime Minister.
Additionally, when the prime minister is travelling, it is standard practice for a senior duty minister to be appointed who can attend to urgent business and meetings if required, though the prime minister remains in charge and updated throughout. On 6 April 2020, when Prime Minister
Boris Johnson Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (; born 19 June 1964) is a British politician and writer serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government ...

Boris Johnson
was admitted into ICU, he asked First Secretary of State
Dominic Raab Dominic Rennie Raab (born 25 February 1974) is a British politician serving as Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The Deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom (DPM) is a senior minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a ...
"to deputise for him where necessary".


Resignation

A prime minister ends their tenure by offering their resignation to the monarch. This can happen after their party has suffered a
general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
defeat, so that they no longer command the confidence of the House of Commons. It can also happen mid-term, if they are forced to resign for political reasons, or for other reasons such as ill health. If the prime minister resigns mid-term, and their party has a majority in the Commons, the party selects a new leader according to its rules, and this new leader is invited by the monarch to become the new prime minister. The outgoing prime minister is likely to remain in post until the new leader has been chosen by the party. After resigning, the outgoing prime minister remains a
Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) ...
. An outgoing prime minister can ask the monarch to bestow honours on any number of people of their choosing, known as the
Prime Minister's Resignation Honours The Prime Minister's Resignation Honours in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synony ...
. No incumbent prime minister has ever lost their own seat at a general election. Only one prime minister .


Precedence, privileges and form of address

By tradition, before a new prime minister can occupy
10 Downing Street 10 Downing Street in London London is the and of and the . It stands on the in south-east England at the head of a down to the , and has been a major settlement for two millennia. The , its ancient core and financial centre, was f ...

10 Downing Street
, they are required to announce to the country and the world that they have "kissed hands" with the reigning monarch, and have thus become prime minister. This is usually done by saying words to the effect of:
Her Majesty the Queen '' is Majesty the King' has asked me to form a government and I have accepted.
Throughout the United Kingdom, the prime minister outranks all other dignitaries except members of the royal family, the
lord chancellor The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking among the Great Officers of State In the United Kingdom, the Great Officers of State are traditional ministers of The Crown who either inheri ...
, and senior ecclesiastical figures.These include: in
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
, the
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; t ...
archbishops of Canterbury and York; in Scotland, the lord high commissioner and the
moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland is the ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland, minister or elder chosen to moderate (chair) the annual General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which is held for a week in E ...
; in
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
, the
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; t ...
and Roman Catholic archbishops of Armagh and Dublin and the
moderator of the General Assembly The moderator of the General Assembly is the Chair (official), chairperson of a General Assembly (presbyterian church), General Assembly, the highest court of a Presbyterian or Calvinism, Reformed church. Kirk sessions and presbytery (church pol ...
of the
Presbyterian Church Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
.
In 2010, the prime minister received £142,500 including a salary of £65,737 as a member of parliament. Until 2006, the
lord chancellor The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking among the Great Officers of State In the United Kingdom, the Great Officers of State are traditional ministers of The Crown who either inheri ...
was the highest paid member of the government, ahead of the prime minister. This reflected the lord chancellor's position at the head of the judicial pay scale. The
Constitutional Reform Act 2005 The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (c 4) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and m ...
eliminated the lord chancellor's judicial functions and also reduced the office's salary to below that of the prime minister. The prime minister is customarily a member of the
Privy Council A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "he head of state He or HE may refer to: ...
and thus entitled to the appellation "
The Right Honourable The Right Honourable (abbreviation An abbreviation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Lati ...
". Membership of the Council is retained for life. It is a constitutional convention that only a privy counsellor can be appointed prime minister. Most potential candidates have already attained this status. The only case when a non-privy counsellor was the natural appointment was Ramsay MacDonald in 1924. The issue was resolved by appointing him to the Council immediately prior to his appointment as prime minister. According to the now defunct
Department for Constitutional Affairs The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) was a United Kingdom government department The departments of the Government of the United Kingdom are the principal units through which it exercises executive authority; a few of them are titled M ...
, the prime minister is made a privy counsellor as a result of taking office and should be addressed by the official title prefixed by "The Right Honourable" and not by a personal name. Although this form of address is employed on formal occasions, it is rarely used by the media. As "prime minister" is a position, not a title, the incumbent should be referred to as "the prime minister". The title "Prime Minister" (e.g. "Prime Minister Boris Johnson") is technically incorrect but is sometimes used erroneously outside the United Kingdom and has more recently become acceptable within it. Within the UK, the expression "Prime Minister Johnson" is never used, although it, too, is sometimes used by foreign dignitaries and news sources. 10 Downing Street, in
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
, has been the official place of residence of the prime minister since 1732; they are entitled to use its staff and facilities, including extensive offices.
Chequers Chequers, or Chequers Court, is the country house An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a Townhouse (Great Britain), town house. This ...

Chequers
, a
country house An English country house is a large house or mansion in the English countryside. Such houses were often owned by individuals who also owned a Townhouse (Great Britain), town house. This allowed them to spend time in the country and in the cit ...
in Buckinghamshire, gifted to the government in 1917, may be used as a country retreat for the prime minister. File:Larry the cat outside 10 Downing St.jpg,
10 Downing Street 10 Downing Street in London London is the and of and the . It stands on the in south-east England at the head of a down to the , and has been a major settlement for two millennia. The , its ancient core and financial centre, was f ...

10 Downing Street
the official place of residence of the prime minister File:Chequers (cropped).jpg, , used by the Prime Minister as a country retreat


Retirement Honours

Upon retirement, it is customary for the sovereign to grant a prime minister some honour or dignity. The honour bestowed is commonly, but not invariably, membership of the UK's most senior order of chivalry, the
Order of the Garter (Shame on him who thinks evil of it) , eligibility = , criteria = At Her Majesty's pleasure , status = Currently constituted , founder = Edward III Edward III (13 November 131221 June 1377), also known as Edward ...
. The practice of creating a retired prime minister a Knight of the Garter (KG) has been fairly prevalent since the mid–nineteenth century. Upon the retirement of a prime minister who is Scottish, it is likely that the primarily Scottish honour of
Knight of the Thistle The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an Chivalric order, order of chivalry associated with Scotland. The current version of the Order was founded in 1687 by James II of England, King James VII of Scotland (James II of England ...
(KT) will be used instead of the Order of the Garter, which is generally regarded as an English honour.This circumstance is somewhat confused, however, as since the Great Reform Act 1832, only seven Scots have served as prime minister. Of these, two –
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law (; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second hig ...
and
Ramsay MacDonald James Ramsay MacDonald (; 12 October 18669 November 1937) was the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or seco ...

Ramsay MacDonald
– died while still sitting in the Commons, not yet having retired; another, the
Earl of Aberdeen Earl () is a rank of the nobility in Britain. The title originates in the Old English word ''eorl'', meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Scandinavia Scandinavia, Sami languages, Sami: ''Skadesi-suolu''/''S ...
, was appointed to ''both'' the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle; yet another,
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
, was appointed to the Order of the Garter, but represented an English constituency and may not have considered himself entirely Scottish; and of the remaining three, the
Earl of Rosebery Earl of Rosebery is a title in the Peerage of Scotland The Peerage of Scotland ( gd, Moraireachd na h-Alba, sco, Peerage o Scotland) is the section of the Peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles ...
became a KG,
Alec Douglas-Home Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, (; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of governm ...
became a KT, and
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the h ...

Gordon Brown
remained in the House of Commons as a
backbencher In Westminster parliamentary systems, a backbencher is a member of parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, leg ...
until 2015.
Historically it has also been common to grant prime ministers a
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
upon retirement from the Commons, elevating the individual to the Lords. Formerly, the peerage bestowed was usually an
earl Earl () is a rank of the nobility in Britain. The title originates in the Old English word ''eorl'', meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Scandinavia Scandinavia, Sami languages, Sami: ''Skadesi-suolu''/''S ...

earl
dom. The last such creation was for
Harold Macmillan Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, (10 February 1894 – 29 December 1986) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nat ...

Harold Macmillan
, who resigned in 1963. Unusually, he became
Earl of Stockton Earl of Stockton is a title in the peerage of the United Kingdom The Peerage of the United Kingdom comprises most peerages created in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the Acts of Union 1800, Acts of Union in 1801, when it r ...
only in 1984, over twenty years after leaving office. Macmillan's successors,
Alec Douglas-Home Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, (; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of governm ...
,
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Harold Wilson
,
James Callaghan Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, (; 27 March 191226 March 2005), commonly known as Jim Callaghan, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdo ...

James Callaghan
and
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
, all accepted
life peer In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefe ...
ages (although Douglas-Home had previously disclaimed his hereditary title as
Earl of Home Earl of Home ( ) is a title in the Peerage of Scotland A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles (and sometimes Life peer, non-hereditary titles) in a number of countries, and composed of assorted noble ranks ...

Earl of Home
).
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005) was a British politician who served as from 1970 to 1974 and from 1965 to 1975. Heath also served for 51 years as a from 1950 to 2001. Outside of politics, Heath was a , a musician, ...
did not accept a peerage of any kind and nor have any of the prime ministers to retire since 1990, although Heath,
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
in 2005 and
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. On his resig ...

Tony Blair
in 2022 were later appointed as Knights of the Garter. The most recent former prime minister to die was Margaret Thatcher (1979–1990) on 8 April 2013. Her death meant that for the first time since 1955 (the year in which the
Earldom of Attlee Earl Attlee is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom The Peerage of the United Kingdom comprises most peerages created in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the Acts of Union 1800, Acts of Union in 1801, when it repla ...
was created, subsequent to the death of
Earl Baldwin Earl Baldwin (January 11, 1901 in Newark, New Jersey – October 9, 1970 in Hollywood, California, age 69) was an American screenwriter. During his career he wrote more than 50 produced screenplays, including ''Wild Boys of the Road'', ''Brother ...
in 1947) the membership of the House of Lords included no former prime minister, a situation which remains the case as of 2020.


See also


Lists of prime ministers by different criteria

* Timeline of prime ministers of the United Kingdom *
List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom#REDIRECT List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom {{Redirect category shell, {{R from move ...
*
List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom by length of tenure This article lists each Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovere ...
*
List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom by age This is a list of prime ministers of the United Kingdom by age. This table can be sorted to display prime ministers of the United Kingdom by name, order of office, date of birth, age at appointment, length of retirement, or lifespan. Age at appoin ...
* List of prime ministers of the United Kingdom by education *
List of current heads of government in the United Kingdom and dependencies In the United Kingdom, various titles are used for the head of government of each of the countries of the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies, and British Overseas Territories, Overseas Territories. Following elections to the assembly or parliament, ...
* List of fictional prime ministers of the United Kingdom * List of peerages held by prime ministers of the United Kingdom * List of United Kingdom Parliament constituencies represented by sitting prime ministers * Historical rankings of prime ministers of the United Kingdom All lists: :Lists of prime ministers of the United Kingdom


Other related pages

* Air transport of the Royal Family and Government of the United Kingdom * Spouse of the prime minister of the United Kingdom * List of children of prime ministers of the United Kingdom * Records of prime ministers of the United Kingdom * Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom * Cultural depictions of prime ministers of the United Kingdom * List of things named after the prime ministers of the United Kingdom * List of nicknames of prime ministers of the United Kingdom * :Books written by prime ministers of the United Kingdom * Armorial of prime ministers of the United Kingdom * List of fictional prime ministers of the United Kingdom * List of burial places of prime ministers of the United Kingdom More related pages: :Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom


Notes


References


Works cited

* * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * *


External links


Number 10 official website

Parliament of the United Kingdom website

Principal Ministers of the Crown: 1730–2006
{{DEFAULTSORT:Prime Minister Of The United Kingdom British Prime Minister's Office, Ministerial offices in the United Kingdom Political history of the United Kingdom Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom nuclear command and control