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  • AQA Component 1, Section The Prime Minister and Cabinet

  • Edexcel Component 2, Section 3.3.2: The Prime Minister and the Cabinet

Background: what you need to know 

This article presents an overview of the pressures on Boris Johnson as prime minister, two years after his appointment to the position. It argues that, although he still leads Labour in the opinion polls, there is growing anxiety in his own party over his style of government and handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are also emerging ideological strains, caused by the tension between Johnson’s high spending approach and the Thatcherite attitudes of many Conservatives.

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

Tory jitters greet Johnson’s second anniversary as prime minister

Both Edexcel and AQA require Politics students to make an in-depth study of two Prime Ministers, one from 1945-97 and one since 1997. You are asked to assess their ability to control events and policy, and to look at the limits as well as the potential power of the office of Prime Minister. There is now enough material on Boris Johnson to make an extended study of his premiership.

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • ‘The UK Prime Minister’s power to control events and shape policy depends mainly on an ability to unite their political party.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement.

    In your answer you should draw on material from across the whole range of your course of study in Politics. [25 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2

  • Evaluate the argument that external circumstances are the main limitation on the power of the UK Prime Minister.

    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 possible Component 1 topic is the ideas of the main UK political parties. One of the areas that you are expected to look at is the legacy of the fiscally conservative Thatcherite tradition in economic policy. This links to the internal tensions within the current Conservative party.

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College

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