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 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.
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.
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 heads the Government and appoints Ministers, who head individual Government departments.
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.
The two other main political parties also have their own ‘shadow cabinets’.
Traditionally, the official residence of the Prime Minister is at Number 10 Downing Street.
He also has a house in the country called 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