First Secretary of State is an office sometimes given to a cabinet minister in the Government of the United Kingdom. The office indicates seniority, including over all other Secretaries of State and can be seen as a sort-of alternative office to Deputy Prime Minister. The office is not always in use, so there have sometimes been extended gaps between successive holders. Boris Johnson appointed the incumbent Dominic Raab to the office on 24 July 2019.

Constitutional position

The First Secretary enjoys no right to automatic succession to the office of Prime Minister. However, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to an Intensive Care Unit on 6 April 2020 after contracting COVID-19, First Secretary Dominic Raab was asked "to deputise for him where necessary." The office temporarily enjoyed some greater constitutional footing between when it was incorporated as a corporate sole in 2002 and having all of its remaining functions transferred in 2008. During most of this time, John Prescott was the First Secretary.


In 1962, R. A. Butler was the first person to be appointed to the office, in part to avoid earlier royal objections to the office of Deputy Prime Minister. The office gave him ministerial superiority over the rest of the Cabinet. Later, Michael Heseltine and John Prescott held the office alongside being Deputy Prime Minister. The two offices have only existed concurrently with different holders in David Cameron's coalition government, wherein Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, while William Hague was First Secretary.


The office is currently, as of 14 January 2021, listed as bringing no additional responsibilities on the gov.uk website.

List of First Secretaries of State


See also

*Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom



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