Powers of of the prime minister and cabinet

Powers of of the prime minister and cabinet

Core Functions

  • The prime minister and cabinet hold executive authority, including initiating and deciding on policy.
  • They are the main decision-making body of the UK government, performing both collective and individual decision-making functions.

Power of the Prime Minister

  • The Prime Minister (PM) has the power to appoint and dismiss members of the cabinet.
  • The PM largely controls the cabinet agenda and has significant influence on policy decisions made within it.
  • The PM also represents the UK domestically and internationally, underscored by their pivotal role in negotiations, summits, and diplomatic relations.

Role of the Cabinet

  • The Cabinet is comprised of senior politicians who head government departments.
  • They provide advice on strategic decisions, help push the government’s legislative agenda and represent their respective departments.
  • Cabinet meetings are often where key governmental policies are debated and decided upon.

Collective Responsibility

  • Collective Responsibility is a key principle in the cabinet system, which states that all cabinet members must publicly support all government decisions, regardless of personal views or departmental interests.
  • If a cabinet member disagrees with a decision, they must resign from their position. This upholds the unified front of the government.

Ministerial Responsibility

  • Ministerial Responsibility is another critical principle, comprising of two parts: Individual Ministerial Responsibility and Collective Ministerial Responsibility.
  • Individual Ministerial Responsibility requires ministers to take responsibility for their actions and the actions of their department. Failure to uphold this can lead to ministerial resignation.
  • Collective Ministerial Responsibility requires Cabinet members to publicly support all decisions made by the Cabinet, ensuring a unified government.

Royal Prerogative

  • The Prime Minister and Cabinet exercise certain powers known as Royal Prerogatives on behalf of the monarch. These include declaring war, negotiating treaties, and conferring honours.


  • Both the Prime Minister and Cabinet are accountable to Parliament and face limitations and oversights imposed by democratic checks and balances.
  • The effectiveness of their power is often contingent upon the dynamics of Parliament, the strength of their political party, public opinion, and global events.