Sections 1-3 make important points about the nature of UK government which bestows great power on the executive and there is an outline of the functions of the PM. This is all basic and essential material. Sections 4-7 detail evidence for and against the view that the Prime Minister has become so personally powerful that he has become a Presidential figure. The central arguments should be known with some evidence. he crucial constitutional feature of contemporary Britain -is that there is no separation of powers between the executive and legislature as there is in the U. S.
A. In Britain the executive (or government) consists of the leadership of the largest party in the Commons. The dominant 'fact' of British political life is that party dominates the Commons – the leadership of the majority party is the government; the leadership of the next biggest party – the official Opposition – want to be the government as well as opposing the government in the short term . The Commons is primarily therefore the 'cockpit' of two-party struggle with the votes of backbenchers on the government side ensuring that the government can effectively govern – i.
e. pass its proposals into law – with the backbenchers of the major opposition party primarily involved in supporting their leaders in the constant attempt to politically embarrass the government of the day. Party leaders and their backbenchers are tied by many mutual obligations – shared political opinions underpinned by philosophy, personal friendships, the ambitions of backbenchers to become frontbenchers, but most basically by electoral factors.
Backbenchers will benefit in votes at a general election from the success of their leaders and this means that there is a general reluctance to criticise the leadership in public as this decreases the 'credibility, or fitness to govern' factor. There is no codified constitution and so there are few formal limitations on the British executive. A Prime Minister exercises significant discretionary powers.
For example, by convention, a Prime Minister exercises the monarch's powers of ministerial appointment and dismissal. He needs no approval from parliament. The Prime Minister also assumes the monarch's powers as Commander-in-Chief and there are no formal constitutional checks as in the USA; so parliament does not need to ratify treaties or even declare war. The EU is an extremely important dimension of UK politics and the Council of Ministers is the central decision-making body; parliament exercises few checks.
In the UK, the second chamber is weak and the Head of State – the Monarch – has no day-to-day political powers (for example, the veto power has not been exercised since 1709). The courts do not have the power of judicial review in the way the US Supreme Court can overrule laws passed by elected bodies. The electoral system often greatly exaggerates the popularity of the winning party – for example, since 1997 the Labour Party has had over 60% of seats in the Commons with around 44% of votes.