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British Prime Ministers - 1945-20xx

1945-1951 Clement Richard AttleeLabour
1951-1965 Winston ChurchillConservative
1955-1957 Anthony EdenConservative
1957-1963 Harold MacmillanConservative
1963-1964 Alec Douglas-HomeConservative
1964-1970Harold WilsonLabour
1970-1974 Edward HeathConservative
1974-1976Harold WilsonLabour
1976-1979 James CallaghanLabour
1979-1990 Margaret ThatcherConservative
1990-1997 John MajorConservative
1997-2007 Tony BlairLabour
2007-2010 Gordon BrownLabour
2010-2016 David CameronConservative
2016-2018Theresa MayConservative
2019-2025Boris JohnsonConservative
2020 acting Dominic RaabConservative

The United Kingdom does not have a written constitution. The equivalent body of law is based on statute, common law, and "traditional rights." Changes may come about formally through new acts of Parliament, informally through the acceptance of new practices and usage, or by judicial precedents. Although Parliament has the theoretical power to make or repeal any law, in actual practice the weight of 700 years of tradition restrains arbitrary actions.

Executive power rests nominally with the monarch but actually is exercised by a committee of ministers (cabinet) traditionally selected from among the members of the House of Commons and, to a lesser extent, the House of Lords. The prime minister is normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, and the government is dependent on its support.

Parliament represents the entire country and can legislate for the whole or for any constituent part or combination of parts. The maximum parliamentary term is 5 years, but the prime minister may ask the monarch to dissolve Parliament and call a general election at any time. The focus of legislative power is the 646-member House of Commons, which has sole jurisdiction over finance. The House of Lords, although shorn of most of its powers, can still review, amend, or delay temporarily any bills except those relating to the budget. The House of Lords has more time than the House of Commons to pursue one of its more important functions--debating public issues. In 1999, the government removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to hold seats in the House of Lords. The current house consists of appointed life peers who hold their seats for life and 92 hereditary peers who will hold their seats only until final reforms have been agreed upon and implemented. The judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches but cannot review the constitutionality of legislation.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:06:18 ZULU