Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (DPM) is an office sometimes held by a minister in the Government of the United Kingdom.

Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
Incumbent
(Office not in use)

since 8 May 2015
Government of the United Kingdom
StyleDeputy Prime Minister
(informal)
The Right Honourable
(UK and Commonwealth)
StatusOffice not in use
Member ofCabinet
Privy Council
Reports toPrime Minister
ResidenceNone, may use Grace and favour residences
SeatWestminster, London
AppointerThe Monarch
on advice of the Prime Minister
Term lengthNo fixed term
Formation1995
First holderMichael Heseltine
Websitewww.gov.uk

The office is not always in use and Prime Ministers may use other offices, such as First Secretary of State, to give seniority to a particular cabinet minister. Indeed, the office is currently not in use and Dominic Raab is the present First Secretary.

Constitutional positionEdit

Unlike analogous offices in some other nations, such as the Vice President of the United States or Vice-Chancellor of Germany, the Deputy Prime Minister has no explicit salary[1] and no right to automatic succession.[2]

One argument made against appointing someone to the office is that it might restrict the royal prerogative to choose a Prime Minister.[3] However, Rodney Brazier has more recently written that there is a strong constitutional case for every Prime Minister to appoint a Deputy Prime Minister, to ensure an effective temporary transfer of power in most circumstances.[4]

Brazier has said that there are three reasons why a Deputy Prime Minister has been appointed: to set out the line of succession to the premiership preferred by the Prime Minister, to promote the efficient discharge of government business and (in the case of Labour governments) to accord recognition to the status of the deputy leader of the Labour party.[3]

When the office has been in use in the past, the Deputy Prime Minister has deputised for the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions.[5]

HistoryEdit

Before World War II, a minister was occasionally invited to act as deputy prime minister when the Prime Minister was ill or abroad, but no one was styled as such when the Prime Minister was in the country and physically able to run the government.[6]

This changed in 1942 when Clement Attlee was appointed Deputy Prime Minister, though such a designation was seen as an exceptional result of a coalition and the war[7] and it has been said that Attlee's 1942 appointment was not formally approved by The King.[8] Indeed, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, actually requested that the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, should be appointed his successor if he were to die in office, not Attlee.[7]

After this, fearing a possible curtailment of the monarch's prerogative to choose a Prime Minister, no one was formally styled Deputy Prime Minister (though there was often a senior minister generally regarded as such) until Michael Heseltine in 1995.[9] John Prescott in 1997 and then Nick Clegg in 2010 were later appointed Deputy Prime Minister.[10][11]

Office and residenceEdit

There is no set of offices permanently ready to house the Deputy Prime Minister.[12] The most recent Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, maintained an office at the Cabinet Office headquarters, 70 Whitehall, which is linked to 10 Downing Street.[13] Clegg's predecessor, Prescott, maintained his main office at 26 Whitehall.[14]

The Prime Minister will also give them the use of a grace and favour country house.[12] While in office, Nick Clegg resided at his private residence in Putney and he shared Chevening House with First Secretary William Hague as a weekend residence.[15] Clegg's predecessor, John Prescott, used Dorneywood.[12]

Unofficial deputiesEdit

The Prime Minister's second-in-command has variably served as Deputy Prime Minister, First Secretary and de facto deputy and at other times Prime Ministers have chosen not to select a permanent deputy at all, preferring ad hoc arrangements.[7]

ListsEdit

Picking out definitive deputies to the Prime Minister has been described as a highly problematic task.[16]

In a list first published in 2015, Jonathan Kirkup and Stephen Thornton said that the following people have the best claim to the position of deputy to the Prime Minister:[16]

Clement Attlee
Herbert Morrison
Anthony Eden
Rab Butler
George Brown
Michael Stewart
Willie Whitelaw
Geoffrey Howe
Michael Heseltine
John Prescott
Nick Clegg

They also said that the following three people would have a reasonable claim:[16]

Andrew Bonar Law
Edward Short
Michael Foot

Brazier has listed the following ministers as unambiguously deputy to or de facto deputies of the Prime Minister:[17]

Clement Attlee 1940–1945
Anthony Eden 1945
1951–1955
Rab Butler 1955–1963
George Brown 1964–1970
Reginald Maudling 1970–1972
Willie Whitelaw 1979–2007
Geoffrey Howe 1989–1990
Michael Heseltine 1995–1997
John Prescott 1997–2007
Nick Clegg 2010–2015
George Osborne 2015–2016
Damian Green 2017
David Lidlington 2018–2019
Dominic Raab 2019–

Lord Norton has listed the following people as serving as deputy prime minister, but not being formally styled as such:[11]

Herbert Morrison 1945–1951
Anthony Eden 1951–1955
Rab Butler 1962–1963
Willie Whitelaw 1979–1988
Geoffrey Howe 1989–1990
David Lidlington 2018–2019

SuccessionEdit

Nobody has the right of automatic succession to the Prime Ministership.[18] However, it is generally considered by those with an interest in the matter that in the event of the death of the Prime Minister, it would be appropriate to appoint an interim Prime Minister, though there is some debate as to how to decide who this should be.[19]

According to Brazier, there are no procedures within government to cope with the sudden death of the Prime Minister.[20] There is also no such title as Acting Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[21] Despite refusing "...to discuss a hypothetical situation" with BBC News in 2011,[22] the Cabinet Office is said to have said in 2006:[23]

There is no single protocol setting out all of the possible implications. However, the general constitutional position is as set out below. There can be no automatic assumption about who The Queen would ask to act as caretaker Prime Minister in the event of the death of the Prime Minister. The decision is for her under the Royal Prerogative. However, there are some key guiding principles. The Queen would probably be looking for a very senior member of the Government (not necessarily a Commons Minister since this would be a short-term appointment). If there was a recognised deputy to the Prime Minister, used to acting on his behalf in his absences, this could be an important factor. Also important would be the question of who was likely to be in contention to take over long-term as Prime Minister. If the most senior member of the Government was him or herself a contender for the role of Prime Minister, it might be that The Queen would invite a slightly less senior non-contender. In these circumstances, her private secretary would probably take soundings, via the Cabinet Secretary, of members of the Cabinet, to ensure that The Queen invited someone who would be acceptable to the Cabinet to act as their chair during the caretaker period. Once the Party had elected a new leader, that person would, of course, be invited to take over as Prime Minister.

Additionally, when the Prime Minister is travelling, it is standard practice for a senior duty minister to be appointed who can attend to urgent business and meetings if required, though the Prime Minister remains in charge and updated throughout.[24]

On 6 April 2020, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted into ICU, he asked First Secretary of State Dominic Raab "to deputise for him where necessary".[25]

List of Deputy Prime MinistersEdit

Contrary to the above list of unofficial deputies, only very few people have actually been formally appointed Deputy Prime Minister. Ministers are appointed by the monarch, on the advice of the Prime Minister.[26] Only three people can be described as definitely being appointed Deputy Prime Minister in such a manner.[10][27]

Deputy Prime Minister[Note 1][Note 2]
Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Term of office Other ministerial portfolios held during tenure Party Ministry Monarch
(Reign)
Ref.
  The Right Honourable
Clement Attlee
MP for Limehouse
(1883-1967)
1940 1945 Labour Party Churchill war ministry George VI
 
(1936–1952)
  The Right Honourable
Michael Heseltine
MP for Henley
(born 1933)
1995 1997 Conservative Major II Elizabeth II
 
(1952–present)
[10][11]
  The Right Honourable
John Prescott
MP for Kingston upon Hull East
(born 1938)
1997 2007 Labour Blair I [10][11]
Blair II
Blair III
  The Right Honourable
Nick Clegg
MP for Sheffield Hallam
(born 1967)
2010 2015 Liberal Democrat Cameron–Clegg [10][11]

TimelineEdit

Nick CleggJohn PrescottMichael Heseltine

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Hennessy says that Attlee's inclusion in the 1942 minute signed off by The King simply read "Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs". It was on separate notepaper that Winston Churchill wrote "Deputy Prime Minister" in red ink.
  2. ^ In his list of official Deputy Prime Ministers, Brazier includes Geoffrey Howe. However, Norton doesn't. Norton explains that Buckingham Palace took issue with appointing Howe "Deputy Prime Minister" and proposed "Sir Geoffrey will act as Deputy Prime Minister".

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975.
  2. ^ Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. p. 152. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
  3. ^ a b Brazier, Rodney (1988). "The deputy prime minister". Public Law: 176.
  4. ^ Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. pp. 82–3. ISBN 978-0-19-885929-1.
  5. ^ Priddy, Sarah (19 October 2020). "Attendance of the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) since 1979". parliament.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  6. ^ Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. pp. 141–2. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
  7. ^ a b c Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. p. 142. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
  8. ^ Hennessy, Peter (1995). The Hidden Wiring: Unearthing the British Constitution. Indigo. p. 16. ISBN 9780575400580.
  9. ^ Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. pp. 142–4. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
  10. ^ a b c d e Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. p. 77. ISBN 9780198859291.
  11. ^ a b c d e Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. p. 143. ISBN 9-781526-145451.
  12. ^ a b c Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-19-260307-4.
  13. ^ "Nick Clegg could be given use of stately home where John Prescott played croquet". The Telegraph. 13 May 2010. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  14. ^ "Deputy Prime Minister | Contact us". gov.uk. Archived from the original on 16 May 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Hague and Clegg given timeshare of official residence". BBC News. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  16. ^ a b c Kirkup, Jonathan; Thornton, Stephen. "'Everyone needs a Willie': The elusive position of deputy to the British prime minister" (PDF). British Politics. 12: 517.
  17. ^ Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. pp. 80–82. ISBN 978-0-19-885929-1.
  18. ^ Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-19-885929-1.
  19. ^ Norton, Philip (2016). "A temporary occupant of No.10? Prime Ministerial succession in the event of the death of the incumbent". Public Law: 34.
  20. ^ Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-19-885929-1.
  21. ^ Brazier, Rodney (2020). Choosing a Prime Minister: The Transfer of Power in Britain. Oxford University Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-19-885929-1.
  22. ^ "MP urges 'line of succession' rules for prime minister". BBC News. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  23. ^ Vennard, Andrew (2008). "Prime Ministerial succession". Public Law: 304.
  24. ^ Mason, Chris (15 August 2016). "Is Boris Johnson running the country?". BBC News. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Statement from Downing Street: 6 April 2020". gov.uk. 6 April 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  26. ^ Britchfield, Colm; Devine, Dan; Durrant, Tim (8 April 2021). "Government ministers". Institute for Government. Retrieved 22 July 2021.
  27. ^ Norton, Philip (2020). Governing Britain: Parliament, Ministers and Our Ambiguous Constitution. Manchester University Press. pp. 143–4. ISBN 9-781526-145451.