Can the British PM formally be charged with treason, or high treason? Does the British constitution make this possible?


2 Answers 2


As far as I can tell, UK government ministers (as well as members of parliament) have no immunity from criminal prosecution for acts carried out as private individuals.

So yes, a British Prime Minister could be charged with treason.

For more information on the complexities of immunity as it affects the Crown, HM Government, and Parliament, see the Wikipedia entries on sovereign immunity in the UK, and parliamentary immunity.


The British system is a parliamentary one. The Prime Minister is elected not by a popular (whether direct or indirect) election, but by the Members of Parliament.

This means that through a vote of no confidence Parliament can dismiss, at any moment, for any reason, the Prime Minister.

The USA needs the impeachment process because the Congress dismissing the President is an extraordinary measure, for extraordinary reasons, in which the Congress ousts the President even if it cannot choose it. A vote of no confidence is, on the opposite, a rather common occurrence (albeit more often than not the Prime Minister choses to resign when it is clear than a successful vote of no confidence is about to happen).

If there are suspicions of treason, parliament can dismiss the prime minister without the need of legal proceedings. The criminal consequences of such charges (prison terms and whatever) would be managed by tribunals dealing with the former Prime Minister (IIRC the parliament no longer is a judiciary body so it cannot imprison anyone).

  • 4
    The question is about whether the PM can be charged with treason. You answer a different question, namely, whether the PM can be dismissed.
    – user103496
    Jan 9 at 4:50
  • 1
    @user103496 It would be difficult for a sitting PM to be charged with treason, because the process for removing them is way quicker than that of a criminal investigation
    – Caleth
    Jan 9 at 9:03
  • The prime minister is not elected by Parliament.
    – phoog
    Jan 9 at 11:20
  • 3
    @phoog only literally. They are appointed by the monarch on the advice that they will have the confidence of parliament, which is expressed by the votes of MPs
    – Caleth
    Jan 9 at 15:10
  • @Caleth it appears that you are mistaken. There is no evidence of such vote in Hansard for the 24th or 25th of October, 2022: hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-10-24 hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-10-25 -- or have I overlooked it somehow?
    – phoog
    Jan 9 at 23:27

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