I’m an American and not familiar with UK’s Parliament. However, I know that the Prime Minister is chosen from the elected MP’s in the House at a given time.

When PM Cameron leaves later, does he have to also step away from his post as MP? Or will he be allowed to remain.

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    He can stay a rank-and-file lawmaker. Jun 28, 2016 at 7:53

4 Answers 4


He would be allowed to remain.

He is the elected parliamentary leader of the Conservative Party and de facto Prime Minister as the Conservative Party won a majority of the seats in Parliament and therefore formed the Government. The Conservative Party elected David Cameron as their leader through a process outlined in this answer. He has resigned as the Prime Minister (leader of the Parliamentary Conservative Party).

He is an elected Member of Parliament as voted by his constituency; he has not resigned his seat in Parliament, so he will continue to be Member of Parliament, albeit as a backbencher, with no official governmental office but with full voting rights. He could still be asked to join the Cabinet (front bench) in a ministerial capacity.

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    I am pretty sure Cameron is currently (28/06/16) Prime Minister de jure as well as de facto. He has announced that he will step down by the time of the Conservative Party conference in October, when they will select a new leader, but until then he is still in post. Jun 28, 2016 at 10:06
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    Correction to my previous comment: it seems that Cameron has said that the new leader should be in place by 2 September. See: bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36640889 But Cameron is still PM until then. Jun 28, 2016 at 10:16
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    @Lostinfrance Good information. The delay is primarily down to the process to elect a successor. He could have simply walked now and his responsibilities would've rolled over to a Deputy Prime Minister (de facto but not de jure), but there is nobody currently selected in that role. The last DPM was Nick Clegg in the Collation Government between 2010-2015.
    – BeaglesEnd
    Jun 28, 2016 at 10:33
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    @BeaglesEnd: he could have resigned with immediate effect but it's not the usual practice. When Blair resigned/retired, he remained PM until his successor was chosen, he didn't hand over to Prescott. I don't know what the succession is if a PM dies or abandons ship like that and there's no deputy, but I suppose there must be one. Jun 28, 2016 at 13:47
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    There is no formal position of "Deputy Prime Minister" in the UK parliament. The appointment of Nick Clegg in the previous Coalition Government was purely an ad hoc arrangement to give the leader of the second party in the coalition some official status and duties. At the present time (as is usually the case) there is no one with the title of "Deputy Prime Minister". In a "life or death" emergency involving the PM, the governing party would make a decision over how best to deal with the matter, but that does not apply to the current situation.
    – alephzero
    Jun 28, 2016 at 17:28

Although @BeaglesEnd's answer is effectively correct, it skirts around some of the foibles of the UK's political system.

For example, it is not actually possible to resign as a Member of Parliament. It does happen in practice, Sadiq Khan did recently when he won the Mayoralty of London, but it requires a legal fiction to arrange (he was given the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds). David Cameron did not resign as a Member of Parliament and he has made no indication that he will so.

Also, there is no official job of Prime Minister. What David Cameron has resigned from is leading Her Majesty's Government. He did this by tendering his resignation to the Queen on Friday, 24th June 2016. So he has actually resigned.

He will, however, remain leader of the Conservative Party until a new leader is in place. The process for replacing the leader is not decided by David Cameron but by a group called the 1922 Committee. They have decided the rules (which are the same as when David Cameron was elected) and have stated that the process will be completed by 2nd September.

That new leader will take over as head of Her Majesty's Government. Note, although the Conservative party is the majority in Parliament, that's not actually required to form a government. Effectively, what is required is support from enough MPs, from whatever parties, in order to be able to win a No Confidence vote. It usually helps to have a majority but not always (as members of your own party may vote against you).

  • "That new leader will take over as head of Her Majesty's Government." maybe, but only if the queen wishes it. Jun 28, 2016 at 13:53
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    "he has actually resigned" -- but isn't he still in post? Whether you call that post PM, or head of HM's government, or First Lord of the Treasury, of the other associated titles, it's all still him. In effect he's handed in his notice, but hasn't yet relinquished the post. He'll do that on the day the Conservative party announces its leadership election result. He remains leader of the Conservative party and PM. Jun 28, 2016 at 13:53
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    I think the formal version is that he has "informed Her Majesty of his decision to resign", as opposed to actually "quit". Jun 28, 2016 at 13:55
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    @Steve Jessop. He's handed in his notice. That's what resigning means whether you're in government or industry. He'll relinquish his Governmental position when his replacement is chosen.
    – Alex
    Jun 28, 2016 at 14:36
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    @Alex: OK. It's just with that phrasing "he has actually resigned [from PM] // He will, however, remain leader of the Conservative Party" I thought you were drawing some distinction between the situations for his positions as PM and party leader. But he's equally given notice from both and equally in position as both. Jun 28, 2016 at 15:54

The UK system is very different from the US presidential system. Here we do not directly vote for a Prime Minister in the same way that the US votes for a President.

The convention is that the leader of the Parliamentary party with an outright majority is invited to form a government by the monarch although this is not always straightforward. Indeed as in the 2010 election failing to secure a majority does not, in of itself, remove the incumbent Prime Minister.

It is also entirely possible for a majority party to elect or appoint a new leader during a Parliament, this happened with Gordon Brown and there are no constitutional or legal bars to how a party leader is elected and different parties have their own individual systems.

It is even possible, in some circumstances for the Prime Minister to come from a minority party and the last government was composed of a coalition of two different parties. In the UK coalitions are rare but in some European countries they are the norm.

It is also worth noting that, in theory, the Prime Minister is appointed by the Monarch and indeed David Cameron will ultimately formally present his resignation to the Queen not Parliament.

Also unlike the situation in the US there is a substantial overlap between the elected legislature and the executive (the cabinet) composed of ministers, secretaries etc.

The Prime minister must, by convention, be a member of parliament, although historically several modern-ish Prime Ministers have been Peers and Peers can still have cabinet posts.

Also the formal posts within the government are in the gift of the Prime Minister and so posts and ministries have shifted somewhat over time, for example the recent separation between the Justice Ministry and Home Office.

There are also various miscellaneous but important posts such as Attorney General and Speaker of the House of Commons which aren't formally part of the government but have an important constitutional role .

That's without considering the House of Lords which has no analogy in US politics.

  • 1
    "the House of Lords which has no analogy in US politics". Only in that they're not elected. In all other respects it's a bicameral parliament, just like us in Ireland with our Seanad (pronounced "Shanid") or the US Senate
    – noonand
    Jun 29, 2016 at 10:13
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    The penultimate paragraph is incorrect: the Attorney General is a government minister, and so is appointed by the PM, just like any other minister; whereas the Speaker is elected by the whole of the Commons, and is required to be independent of any party or government. Jun 29, 2016 at 12:11
  • @noonand: Are you sure? My understanding of the Lords may be incorrect, but I understand that they can neither originate legislation nor block it entirely--being able only to delay it. The US Senate is fully equal with the House of Representatives; each house has one set of powers the other doesn't: The Senate alone ratifies treaties and confirms presidential appointments, while the House alone initiates bills for raising revenue. In my opinion, this difference is significant. In the UK, passing Commons is normally sufficient. In the US, passing the Senate may be more difficult than the House. Jul 6, 2016 at 3:49
  • @ScottSeverance: the House of Lords can indeed initiate legislation, apart from anything to do with raising or spending money. It cannot block (most) legislation, and rarely does so; but on the few occasions it has, the Commons can overrule it after a delay. Jul 6, 2016 at 15:47

He has said he will resign as Prime Minister when a new leader of the Conservative party os elected.

He will still be a MP (a Member of Parliament) and retains his seat in parliament.

He could be a cabinet member under future Prime Ministers as has happened in the past. e.g. Neville Chamberlain.

He can remain an MP if elected as did some predecessors e.g. Ted Heath who lost the election in 1974 and so stopped being PM and became the leader of the opposition and then lost the election as Conservative Party leader the next year year. He remained an MP until 2001.

Winston Churchill who lost the party leadership and PM in 1955 and carried on as an MP until 1964.


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