Role of the UK Prime Minister
Britain Prime Minister is President in Nature
The United Kingdom has a parliamentary system of government that includes the Cabinet and Parliament to which the prime minister is answerable. Although the Queen is the Head of state most of the prime Minister has taken her powers informally, although in essence, the British Prime Minister cannot become the president. Critics of the notion that the Prime minister of Britain has acquired presidential nature have cross-examined various factors and highlighted the development related to this. Simultaneously they have confirmed that, the Prime Minister of Britain is still a Prime minister. Critics base their arguments on few instances with Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher taken as examples. Tony Blair is on record of poor attendance of parliament and fond of chairing shortest cabinet meetings a character associated with presidential systems of governance, Bennet (2005).
Similar events happened during the encounter of Margaret Thatcher with Reagan when she termed the meeting as two head of states meeting. In separate incidence, Tony Blair expressed the nations sorrow speech during Princess Diana’s death on behalf of the nation rather than the Queen. Traditionally, the president is the head of state, representing the status and legitimacy of the state. This position is traditionally a prerogative of the monarch Queen according British structures of governance, Bennet (2005). However, in the recent century, the power of monarch has faltered making Prime ministers act as head of state of England.
The role of British prime minister has been changing with critics saying that it is becoming more of presidential in nature; the role has increasingly acquired presidential powers which critics see it as a way of dominating government. Much as, there is a clear distinction between legislatures and executive in the UK, it is unclear since technically the prime minister is the Chief of Executive, Chief of the state, as well as Commander in Chief of Britain functions, considered typically presidential. The separation of power in this context gives the premier, similar powers with the president.
Critics further argue that, the Prime minister is unique because of overlap in prerogatives between the executive and legislating branches of government. The premier in UK can easily harness the sovereignty of the parliament since he or she has the majority in the upper house. This is contrary to countries like those that the United States where the legislature is independent of the president hence can be an obstacle to presidents’ mandate. Although the prime minister does not have an official title, he or she is the head of state. This function is similar to that of the president. Much as technical differences remain with the constitution the role of the British prime minister is more of the president , Bell (1999).
Informally, he has claimed this role over some period of time, which includes; functions of chief of state, Commander of Chief of the state, as well as Commander in chief of the military. The British prime minister dominance in the defense ministry is an aspect that gives him or her decisive power on the use of the army. The reality of this prevailed when in the recent past -the former Prime Minister Tony Blair -despite the enormous public critics made a decision of invading Iraq- which also prompted the resignation of government ministers over the war, alongside Blair’s advocacy on war against terrorism, Bell (1999). Critic termed this as an illustration of pure presidential system of government. In the recent past, there has also been a tendency of prime Ministers distancing themselves from their parties and government.
The power in the executive, institutionally, is centered on the Prime minister- with personalized behavioral politics. Among these includes the reported growth of Prime ministers offices, growth of cabinet committees as well as Treasury oversight of legislative intent. Policy initiatives have also been centered on individual, as opposed to parties causing election to be about leaders and not parties. This has largely affected party discipline in parliament, Beilen, (2000).
This concerned above generally involves foreign policy and the military thus leading to a conclusion by critics that the Britain prime minister has become a president in nature. Another crucial aspect of presidential emulation by British prime minister is the change of his role, which has largely, involved him with private civil servants, Battacharnya (2006). This role has spearheaded the marginalization of cabinet with Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher overseeing executive dominance during their era. In recent years, the Prime Ministers offices revolves around controlling the executive as well as coordinating activities hence providing Prime Minister with an oversight role of ministers and departments.
Cameron has employed the same leadership style under the coalition. Recently, he called for; private sector experts, spins doctors and civil servants to assist him in managing the coalition cabinet, and developing a coalition agreement, Apache (2009). This significantly, puts the prime minister in powerful presidential nature position, where he can neglect the elected cabinet ministers and work with private in drafting policies. Like other presidential debates, British leaders appeared on a televised in 2010 featuring the prime minister. This is a tradition largely associated with presidential elections like U.S. This was one way of confirming that election was deviating from party ideologies to individual as seen in most presidential system.