British Politics

British Politics

British Government Structure

  • The UK operates under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.
  • The current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has ceremonial duties and roles in the functioning of the government.
  • The parliament is the sovereign governing body and it includes two houses: the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Prime Minister and Cabinet

  • The Prime Minister is the head of government and usually the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons.
  • Alongside the PM, the Cabinet, consisting of senior ministers, decides the government’s policies.
  • Cabinet collective responsibility is a convention that all government ministers must publicly support all governmental decisions made in Cabinet.

House of Commons

  • The House of Commons represents the elected component of Parliament with its members known as Members of Parliament (MPs).
  • The leader of the party capable of commanding a majority in the House of Commons is asked by the monarch to form a government.

House of Lords

  • The House of Lords is the upper house of Parliament, composed of Life Peers, Bishops and Hereditary Peers.
  • It acts as a revising chamber, amending and reviewing legislation proposed by the House of Commons.


  • The UK has devolved powers to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which have their own devolved governments and parliaments/assemblies.
  • These bodies have power over areas such as health, education, and transport. However, key areas such as defence and foreign affairs are retained by the UK government.

Role of Political Parties

  • The UK has a multi-party system although the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have been the two biggest parties for most of the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Other significant parties include the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Green Party.

Role of Judiciary

  • The judiciary maintains law and resolves disputes to ensure equality and justice.
  • The UK’s highest court is the Supreme Court. The judiciary also has the ability to perform judicial reviews on government actions.
  • It functions independently from other aspects of the government.

By understanding these aspects of British politics, a sound knowledge can be built about the function, structure, and key points of the UK political system.