Politics class: Boris Johnson’s Downing Street shake-up needs to succeed — and fast
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
This article picked by a teacher with suggested questions is part of the Financial Times free schools access programme. Details/registration here.
AQA Component 1, section 184.108.40.206; The Prime Minister and Cabinet
Edexcel Component 2, Section 3.3.2: The Prime Minister and the Cabinet
Click to read the articles below and then answer the questions:
Background: what you need to know
This article covers several different areas but please read the section ‘Sue Gray’s The Winds of Winter’ in connection with the role of the Prime Minister. It covers two important developments in Boris Johnson’s premiership:
The Prime Minister has emerged from the Metropolitan Police investigation into lockdown parties in Downing Street without having more fines imposed on him. This limits the political damage for him, but he has already fallen far in the opinion polls. His main source of strength now is the lack of a clear alternative leader with broad support among Conservative MPs.
The planned reorganisation of the Downing Street machine is going ahead. The Cabinet Office is being split, with part reporting directly to Boris Johnson — an embryonic Prime Minister’s department. The article points out, however, that the success of this depends on the drive supplied from the top. There is also a risk that it may weaken the Cabinet Office, which has traditionally been tasked with coordinating the work of government across Whitehall.
Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1
Explain and analyse three sources of strength for the UK Prime Minister. [9 marks]
Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2
Evaluate the extent to which the UK Prime Minister can direct policy and control events.
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 Component 1 topic is Political Parties. The article underlines the importance for the PM of retaining the support of the parliamentary party. Although there are powerful levers to retain the loyalty of backbench Conservative MPs, they will expect the PM to deliver on the issues that matter to them. The priority for many is how successfully government economic policy addresses the cost of living crisis, which directly affects their constituents.
Graham Goodlad, St John’s College