Limitations on the power of PMs

Permanent limitations

·   The cabinet has the power to overrule a prime minister. The prime minister is  limited by the knowledge that he or she must carry the cabinet with him or her.

·   The ruling party could remove a prime minister. Though this has not occurred in recent history (with the possible exception that it was pressure from the membership that led to Tony Blair's premature resignation in 2007), the prime minister needs to be careful to maintain the support of his or her party membership.

·   Parliament can overrule a prime minister by digging in its heels in opposition to a policy of the prime minister.

The electorate can bring an end to a prime minister's position. The prime minister will have to face re-election eventually and so must take public opinion into account

Variable limitations

Here we identify factors which may weaken a specific prime minister. 

We can summarise these variable limitations thus:

·    adverse events' Events, dear boy, events' (Harold Macmillan)

·    a small or non-existent parliamentary majority for the PM's party

·    internal party opposition- divided party

·    unfavourable media image

·    negative public image