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  • AQA Component The Prime Minister and Cabinet

  • Edexcel Component 2 (UK Government): 3.3.2: The powers of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to dictate events and determine policy.

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

Truss finally admits defeat on tax benefit for the wealth

Background: what you need to know

This article looks at the U-turn performed by Prime Minister Liz Truss and her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, who have dropped their plan to abolish the 45 per cent tax rate paid by the highest earners in the face of pressure from public opinion and many Conservative MPs.

For students of the role of the Prime Minister there are two key points of interest. Firstly, decisions on high-level economic policy are often made by the PM and Chancellor alone, without reference to the rest of the Cabinet. Secondly, the U-turn has weakened the authority of both.

There have been suggestions that Truss might sack Kwarteng but they were joint authors of the policy, and making the Chancellor a scapegoat would reflect on her too. Both have been damaged by the episode and there are now doubts over their ability to push through other controversial policies if they encounter opposition within the Conservative party.

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • Explain and analyse three ways in which the Prime Minister’s power can be limited. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2

  • Evaluate the view that the Prime Minister’s power is determined mainly by their handling of events and ability to determine government policy.

    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: The Truss example is a good starting point but be sure that you can illustrate your answer with reference to earlier PMs who either failed or succeeded in controlling events and pushing through a policy agenda. Examples include John Major and Black Wednesday, Tony Blair and the Iraq war, Theresa May or Boris Johnson with their respective Brexit plans.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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