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UK Parliament Week 2022: How Local MPs are elected, and the Prime Minister is chosen

To mark UK Parliament Week 2022, AVOW will be sharing information designed to serve as a refresher, or an introduction, for some everyday political process facts which may be easily lost in the whirlwind of news and information. AVOW were assisted in compiling this information by our volunteer, Mike Ashfield. Today’s topic is…

What’s the difference between how Local MPs are elected and how an MP becomes the Prime Minister?

Local Member of Parliament (MP):

  • At a general election, all constituencies become vacant and a Member of Parliament is elected for each from a list of candidates standing for election. General elections happen every five years.
  • MPs consider and can propose new laws as well as raise issues that matter to you in the Commons.
  • MPs split their time between working in Parliament itself, working in the constituency that elected them and working for their political party.
  • To vote in a general election you must: be registered to vote, be 18 or over on the day of the election (‘polling day’), be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen, and be a resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years), and not be legally excluded from voting.

Prime Minister (PM):

  • The party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons at a general election usually forms the new government: its leader becomes Prime Minister.
  • The Prime Minister is appointed by the monarch.
  • If you live in the constituency represented by the current Prime Minister you are still only voting for them as your local MP in the next Parliament.
  • Prime Ministers may resign if their party has suffered a General Election defeat, but can also happen mid-term if they are forced to resign for political reasons, or for other reasons such as ill health.
  • If the Prime Minister resigns mid-term, and their party has a majority in the Commons, the party selects a new leader according to its rules, and they are then invited by the monarch to become the new Prime Minister. The outgoing prime minister is likely to remain in post until the new leader has been chosen by the party.
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