Parliament's ability to remove governments


Fixed term Parliaments

In theory the Commons can remove a government using a vote of no confidence, but this has not happened since March 1979. By making a vote a matter of confidence in the government, as John Major did on a crucial division on the Maastricht Treaty in July 1993, a PM can face down opposition; MPs will not normally risk triggering a general election in which they may lose their seats. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act has in any case introduced safeguards for the executive, allowing a PM who loses such a vote a 14-day period in which to form a new government.

What are Ministerial and Collective Responsibility?

Resignations of individual ministers as a result of criticism from MPs, is unusual unless there is evidence of incompetence or a scandal, but in all the best-known recent cases, parliamentary pressure has been supplemented by attacks in the media.