How to Become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

The Road to Number 10

It is probably no secret that most MP’s have once dreamed of being Prime Minister. But for someone to get the keys to number 10 Downing Street they have to go down a long hard road.

Before one becomes PM, one must first be an MP. So unlike the United States, where people like Donald Trump who has no experience at all can run and become elected President, in the UK you can’t be an amateur.

So firstly to become an MP you must meet the entry requirements. One must be 18 years or older, be a British Citizen, a citizen of the Commonwealth or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland and not have any criminal convictions. Finally, to stand for a constituency, one must pay a £500 deposit and be and be elected by 10 parliamentary electors in that constituency. Anyone meeting these requirements can stand as an MP in either a General Election or a Bi-Election.

Local elections in the UK are simple. The candidate with the highest number of votes wins and becomes a Member of Parliament. From then on one can progress through their party. 

There are two types of parties in the United Kingdom. The party in power which is called the Government and the parties out of power known as the opposition parties. Which party occupies these positions depends completely on how many seats they occupy in the House of Commons. The largest is the government the second largest the official opposition and the rest occupy the other opposition roles.

Once in Parliament, you can begin your climb to the top. To become Prime Minister, one must first be the leader of their party. This is only possible through a leadership challenge. These are irregular but the most likely chance for one to arise is in the event of a party losing a General Election. 

In this eventuality, there is a good chance that your party leader will resign necessitating a run for leadership. In order to run, one must only put their name forward for a leadership challenge. Leadership challenges are run differently depending on the party, for example, the conservatives require only the support of 2 sitting MP’s, which applies to all sitting MP’s. While to be on the Labour ballot one needs the backing of 20% of sitting Labour MP’s and MEP’s, unless you are the party leader in which case you end up on the paper automatically.

If there are more than 2 MP’s on a ballot, then the parties' MP’s vote on their two favourites. The two candidates then have a chance to campaign on a limited budget of only £100,000. 

The public doesn't vote them in, this role goes to party members. To become a party member one must only pay a membership fee. The one who wins the most votes wins and becomes the party leader. 

Now if that party is in power this person instantly becomes the Prime Minister and is required to go to the queen who will ask them to form a government. More commonly, however, this party is in opposition and the MP becomes leader of the opposition while at the same time still being MP for their constituency.

So, now you are close to the top job, but not there yet. To make it the final step you need to take your party to victory in the next general election. Unlike in the United States, a general election isn’t run as an election to choose the next PM but the next government. 

During a General Election, all 650 seats are contested. The party that wins a majority of seats forms the next government and therefore their leader becomes the next Prime Minister. Seeing as General Elections happen only once every five years, this road can be long and hard as each of the other 649 MP’s are probably trying to do the same thing. 

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How to Become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
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