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Is the British prime minister now effectively a president?

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Introduction

Is the British prime minister now effectively a president? One of the reason that prime minister has become more president the cabinet and key government departments have seen their role taken over by the prime minister and a small group of downing Street officials and advisers. Thus the machinery of the central government has become increasingly similar to the White House machinery. Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador in Washington DC, has claimed that Jack Straw and the Foreign Office were sidelined as most communication was directly between Downing Street and the Washington embassy. Although the Prime Minister is not officially the head of state, he or she increasingly assumes the stature of a presidential-style head of the state. ...read more.

Middle

This suggests that these leaders deliberately make themselves into outsiders within government. They separate themselves from its other members and so are able to act independently, but also to remain part of government itself. It has been noticed that as the role has become more dominant, there has been a tendency for the office holder to see him/herself as separate from government. Thatcher and Reagan took this a step further. They even criticised governments of which they were the head, suggesting that they tended to be inefficient, wasteful and simply, tried to too much. On taking office in 1981, Reagan expressed the issue this: Government is not the solution to out problems. Government is the problem.' There many counter arguments to the presidential thesis. ...read more.

Conclusion

Prime ministers now seem to be more presidential largely as a result of media attention and the importance of foreign policy. Whilst it might be possible to argue that Thatcher and Blair in some ways project a presidential image, it would be difficult to argue the same about major. A third analysis has been offered in the past by Professor George Jones. This is the 'elastic' theory. It suggest that as a prime minister tries to stretch the powers of the office further and further, the forces of constraint become increasingly strong. This analysis fits well with the experience of the Margaret Thatcher, who gained increasing numbers of enemies as she sought to exercise more and more control. Eventually the enemies turned on her when they felt they had enough strength to remove her. ...read more.

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