Politics class: Drift and division: inside Boris Johnson’s Downing Street
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AQA Component 1, Section 126.96.36.199: 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 provides an in-depth analysis of the problems facing Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, in a week when his capability was widely questioned following a disastrous speech to the CBI. It highlights two key issues: the growing sense that the government lacks a coherent policy focus, which has affected Conservative MPs’ morale; and the existence of conflicting factions in Downing Street giving advice to the Prime Minister.
The article notes some positive indicators for Johnson — the lack of an obvious leadership challenger and the continuing mediocre performance of the Labour party in the opinion polls. But the main message is that there is a lack of strategic direction at the heart of government.
Click to read the articles below and then answer the questions:
Make sure that you understand the background to some of the issues mentioned in the article, which spell political danger for the Prime Minister — the dispute about parliamentary standards stemming from the Owen Paterson case, and the narrow Commons victory in the vote on social care.
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. The article will help you make an interim judgment on Boris Johnson, two and a half years into his premiership, if you choose him as your recent case study.
Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1
‘The UK Prime Minister has limited power to control events and shape policy.’ 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 power of the UK Prime Minister depends mainly on their ability to demonstrate governing competence.
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 political parties. You need to know about the various factors that affect party success, including the public perception of their competence, which is strongly influenced by the media.
Graham Goodlad, St John’s College