the prime minister was determined to remain in office


Prime ministers are appointed based on their ability to lớn command confidence in the House of Commons.

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How are prime ministers appointed?

Prime ministers are appointed based on their ability to lớn command confidence in the House of Commons. If an election produces a clear majority for one các buổi party, then the leader of that các buổi party becomes prime minister. If it is the incumbent prime minister, then they continue in office. If it is another các buổi party, then the incumbent formally resigns the morning after the election and they are replaced.

If no các buổi party wins a clear majority, then there may be a process of negotiation before it becomes clear who is likely to lớn be prime minister. An incumbent prime minister is entitled to lớn remain in office and test whether they can command confidence, or they may resign if it becomes obvious that they will not be able to lớn tự sánh.

However, it is vital that a prime minister is in place and there is an expectation they will not resign until it is clear who can take over.

What happens when a new prime minister is appointed?

The incumbent prime minister informs Buckingham Palace that they will be resigning. There is then a well-rehearsed sequence of events in which the outgoing prime minister travels to lớn see the King and formally tenders his or her resignation. They have a short audience with the King.

After the outgoing prime minister has left, the incoming prime minister arrives and is formally asked by the King to lớn size a government. This audience is known as ‘kissing hands’, though they are more likely to lớn shake hands. After their appointment, the new prime minister heads straight to lớn 10 Downing Street.

What is the King's role in deciding who can become prime minister?

The Monarch’s role in appointing a prime minister is one of the remaining prerogative powers. These are residual powers remaining with the Sovereign that have not been placed elsewhere. The majority of those powers are exercised on his behalf by ministers, but the power to lớn appoint prime ministers remains with the King.

What happens when a prime minister resigns mid-term?

If the government hold a majority, it is for the các buổi party or parties in government to lớn identify the successor. It is usual practice for the prime minister to lớn be the leader of the các buổi party. Changes of prime minister outside a general election therefore usually take place when a prime minister has resigned as leader of the các buổi party, or been forced out through a confidence vote or leadership challenge. In 2022, after Boris Johnson announced his intention to lớn step down, the Conservative các buổi party held a leadership election which saw Liz Truss become Conservative leader on 5 September and prime minister on 6 September. Johnson remained prime minister throughout the leadership contest.

If a prime minister resigns and the các buổi party in government does not have a majority, it becomes more complicated. If a clear alternative is likely to lớn be able to lớn command confidence, then this only needs to lớn be made clear to lớn the Palace. This could be through some parliamentary mechanism, but it can also be through coalition or confidence and supply agreements between parties or letters of tư vấn.

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How does the King know who to lớn appoint?

There is a strong constitutional convention that the Sovereign should be kept out of politics.

If there is no clear majority, or if negotiations over government formation have not produced a clear answer as to lớn who can command confidence, then it is expected that political parties will establish who is best placed and ensure that the King is not dragged into any disputes. According to lớn the Cabinet Manual, "the Sovereign should not be drawn into các buổi party politics, and if there is doubt it is the responsibility of those involved in the political process, and in particular the parties represented in parliament, to lớn seek to lớn determine and communicate clearly to lớn the Sovereign who is best placed to lớn be able to lớn command the confidence of the House of Commons".

How does the King know if a new prime minister can command confidence?

The question of who can command confidence only arises if a các buổi party has not won a majority or has lost it during the lifetime of a parliament.

The Cabinet Manual says that "an incumbent government is entitled to lớn wait until a new parliament has met to lớn see if it can command the confidence of the House of Commons, but is expected to lớn resign if it becomes clear that it is unlikely to lớn be able to lớn command that confidence and there is a clear alternative". In 1924, Stanley Baldwin resigned after being defeated on a King’s Speech

At other times, prime ministers will resign if it is self-evident that they will not be able to lớn command confidence. In February 1974, Edward Heath resigned after a weekend attempting to lớn negotiate an agreement with the Liberal Party. He was replaced by Harold Wilson, who led a minority Labour government. In May 2010, Gordon Brown resigned five days after the election when it became clear that negotiations with the Liberal Democrats would not produce an agreement with Labour and that the Conservatives were more likely to lớn be able to lớn size a coalition. 

Who advises the King?

It is the role of the King's private secretary, the prime minister’s principal private secretary and the cabinet secretary to lớn maintain communication between Buckingham Palace and politicians in trying to lớn establish who can command confidence. They are known colloquially as the ‘golden triangle’.

The Cabinet Manual emphasises that ensuring the King is able to lớn appoint a successor is a role that "falls especially on the incumbent Prime Minister", who may also be asked to lớn advise him on who is best placed to lớn be appointed. It is advice with a lower-case a.

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However, 1949 civil service papers say that the monarch "has the absolute right to lớn consult anyone he pleases" and that in a "complicated political situation" the monarch can consult more widely.

Have there ever been controversial appointments?

There were at least two occasions in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II where she had to lớn make a decision that caused controversy.

In July 1953, Prime Minister Winston Churchill suffered a stroke at a time when his expected successor, Anthony Eden, was undergoing an operation. Buckingham Palace had to lớn consider options for a caretaker prime minister if Churchill died. In 1963, she invited Alec Douglas-Home to lớn see whether he could size a government when the outgoing prime minister, Harold Macmillan, advised her to lớn tự sánh. This was against the wishes of other senior Conservatives who expected to lớn be in the running and eventually led to lớn the introduction of formal rules for how Conservative leaders are chosen.