Project BritainProject Britain

British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
The British Prime Minister

Unlike the US, British voters do not choose their Prime Minister (PM). He/she is voted for within their political party.

The leader of the party in power becomes the Prime Minister.

The leader of the political party with the most MPs in the House of Commons is asked by the Queen to become Prime Minister and to form a government that will manage the country. 

Who is the party in power today?

We have two parties in power.

In the 2010 General Election, no party won an over all majority of seats. David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, formed a new government, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Parliamentary elections are held once every five years, or less.

David CameronWho is the British Prime Minister?

At present, the Prime Minister is David Cameron, who is the leader of the Conservative Party and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats is his deputy.

Every week the Prime Minister appears before the House of Commons and must answer questions put to him or her by the members of Parliament.

The Prime Minister is the head of the UK Government

The Prime Minister heads the Government and appoints Ministers, who head individual Government departments.

The Secretaries of State

The most important ministers are called Secretaries of State and they form the Cabinet.

The Secretaries of State are in charge of a Government Department (a ministry). Each minister is responsible for his department, and makes sure that his department applies the policy of the government.

The most important Secretaries of State are:

  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance)
  • The Foreign Secretary (international affairs)
  • The Home Secretary (internal affairs)
  • The Lord Chancellor (the legal system)
  • The Secretary of State for Education
  • The Secretary of State for Transport and the Environment.

Shadow Cabinet

The two other main political parties also have their own ‘shadow cabinets’.

Number 10 Downing StreetWhere does the Prime Minister live?

Traditionally, the official residence of the Prime Minister is at Number 10 Downing Street.

image: Map of Whitehall Click to go to Horse Guards Click to find out about Trafalgar Square Click to find out about the Houses of Paliament and Big Ben 10 Downing Street Click for Cabinet Office Click for Banqueting House HM Revenue Foreign and Commonwealth

He also has a house in the country called Chequers.

What is Chequers?

Chequers is a country house belonging to the Government, which is used as the Prime Minister's non-London residence. If the PM needs to hold a private conference of some of his Ministers or receive foreign visitors over a weekend, Chequers is usually where it is done. It is also used by Prime Ministers to entertain guests as a special privilege.

How Britain is Governed | Parliament

House of Parliament | Elections | Government

Prime Minister | House of Commons

Making and Passing Laws

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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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