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  • AQA Component 1, Section The Prime Minister and Cabinet: two examples that demonstrate the power of the Prime Minister and cabinet to dictate events and determine policymaking

  • Edexcel Component 2, Section 3.3.2: The powers of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to dictate events and determine policy.

Background: what you need to know

This article assesses Rishi Sunak’s position following the passage of his Rwanda asylum bill on Wednesday 17 January. The previous day, he faced a rebellion by 60 Conservative MPs, who tried to toughen the bill. This was thwarted, thanks to Labour voting with the government to defeat the rebels’ amendments. At third reading the revolt collapsed and the bill passed by a majority of 44.

Had Sunak failed at this stage, this would have seriously undermined his authority and might even have triggered a leadership challenge. In the end, party discipline prevailed and most of Sunak’s opponents decided that it was better to pass a bill, however unsatisfactory in their eyes, than nothing.

However, Sunak still faces potential threats to the legislation. The bill could be delayed by opposition in the Lords, where the government has no overall majority. A challenge in the European Court of Human Rights could also hold up its implementation.

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

Rwanda bill rebellion takes heavy toll on Rishi Sunak

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • ‘An ability to manage Parliament is the most important factor affecting a UK Prime Minister’s ability to dictate events and shape policy.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. [25 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2

  • Evaluate the argument that the power of the UK Prime Minister to dictate events and determine policy depends mainly on the successful management of Parliament.

    In your answer you should draw on relevant knowledge and understanding of the study of Component 1: UK politics and core political ideas. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: A relevant topic that could be linked to this question is Political Parties. In addition to discussing Rishi Sunak’s premiership, think of other PMs who have faced problems with divided parties, for example Theresa May’s inability to pass her Brexit Bill in 2019, and PMs who have been more successful in maintaining party unity, such as Tony Blair, especially in the wake of his 1997 general election victory.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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