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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

The Cabinet is a widely underestimated actor in the UK executive, following decades of commentary on the rise of so-called ‘prime ministerial government’ at the expense of collective decision-making. This article, on the other hand, offers a good example of the Cabinet asserting itself. It appears that a group of ministers led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak have pushed back against an initiative by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, an ally of the Prime Minister. She had announced the impending demise of the BBC licence fee without proper Cabinet discussion.

It should be remembered that Boris Johnson’s position as Prime Minister has been weakened by the controversy over Downing Street parties, alleged to have taken place in breach of Covid-19 lockdown rules. As a result, he is engaged in a desperate struggle to rally support in the Conservative party.

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

Cabinet opposition forced climbdown on ending BBC licence fee

Depending on the examination board you are following, now answer one of the following questions.

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • ‘The importance of the Cabinet has declined in recent years.’ 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 the Cabinet retains considerable power within the UK executive.

    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 role of the media. The article notes that the planned abolition of the BBC licence fee was trailed in the press in an attempt to circumvent Cabinet discussion.

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College

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