Can the Queen sack the Prime Minister and can anyone force a Prime Minister to resign?
The UK has a complicated and unwritten constitution and so there are a number of ways a Prime Minister can be removed from office. Boris Johnson’s job is really under threat
Boris Johnson is facing increasing pressure in his role as Prime Minister.
Reports of him attending parties during the coronavirus lockdown and a booze culture among Downing Street staff have caused uproar in Parliament and across the country.
However, getting the best dog out of No10 can be trickier than it looks and depends on very specific circumstances.
Britain is also a constitutional monarchy, which means that technically Mr Johnson’s boss is Her Majesty the Queen.
As an unelected head of state, the Queen does not involve herself in political affairs, but she does have some interesting powers that could lead to complications.
MPs forcing the Prime Minister to resign are the most likely option. So who can force the Prime Minister to step down?
Can the Queen fire Boris Johnson?
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
The monarch’s position in the UK is largely ceremonial and possesses no serious day-to-day power.
The Queen does not vote or stand for election, but she has a special relationship with the Prime Minister.
She retains the right to appoint him and also to meet him regularly.
However, with little political power, it is extremely unlikely the Queen will be able to get rid of Mr Johnson.
Technically speaking, she still has ‘reserve powers’ which allow her to dismiss a government or prime minister if they believe they are behaving unconstitutionally, but this was last done in 1834 by the king William IV.
Matters are decided by Parliament and asking the Queen for permission to do anything like dissolving Parliament is a formality, rather than powers the monarch can now wield.
How could Parliament get rid of Boris Johnson?
A vote of no confidence in the government can be introduced by MPs in the House of Commons and requires a majority to pass. When governments have a large majority, this is usually too difficult to pass.
It takes serious concern among government MPs to try to oust their own prime minister in this way.
If a government loses a vote of no confidence, the majority party has 14 days to try to regain the support of MPs, while opposition MPs can try to form their own government.
The Prime Minister must resign if it is clear that someone else can get support from home. However, the law does not state that the Prime Minister must leave.
If the government fails to regain support within 14 days, a general election is called.
How could the Tories get rid of Boris Johnson?
The current prime minister could face the wrath of the 1922 committee.
Disgruntled Tory MPs, such as Douglas Ross and Sir Roger Gale, can send censure letters to the committee. If 15% of Tory MPs submit a letter, the magic number being 54, then a leadership challenge is triggered.
Letters should be addressed to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady, and are addressed anonymously.
Brady is the only person likely to know the full letter count.
If 54 letters are received, a vote will take place. Johnson must receive a majority of MPs backing him if that happens, losing that would bar him from contesting a leadership election.
If he won, he would be safe from challenge for another year.