There are renewed calls for Boris to resign – but what would happen if he did? (Picture: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty)
The deputy prime minister of the UK is the second most senior member of central government besides the prime minister.
In the event of the PM resigning or fired, would the deputy PM step up? And who occupies that role at present?
Here is all you need to know.
Who is the deputy prime minister?
Dominic Raab, the Secretary of State for Justice, is the current holder of the title after being appointed in a cabinet reshuffle in September 2021.
Mr Raab was previously the Foreign Secretary and Mr Johnson’s First Secretary of State, a position seen by many as the unofficial deputy to the PM.
Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab with Boris Johnson. (Picture: by Jeff Gilbert/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Former deputy prime ministers include Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who was deputy to David Cameron during the 2010-2015 coalition government and John Prescott, who was Tony Blair’s deputy from 1997-2007.
What responsibilities does the deputy PM have?
The main role of the deputy prime minister is to stand in at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) and chair the cabinet when the prime minister is absent.
A deputy usually stands in at PMQs and urgent meetings when the prime minister is travelling, although the PM remains in charge.
The position does not have a salary and is expected to be carried out alongside the appointees’ normal duties.
Mr Raab was forced to step in when Mr Johnson was hospitalised with Covid-19 in April 2020, although at the time Raab was First Secretary of State and had not yet been appointed deputy PM.
Dominic Raab deputised for Boris Johnson after he was hospitalised with Covid-19. (Picture: PA)
UK prime ministers don’t always appoint an official deputy, and their unofficial second-in-command is often their first secretary or similar.
Who will be PM if Boris Johnson resigns or is fired?
Despite being second-in-command, deputy prime ministers have no automatic right of succession if a prime minister resigns.
How the next leader of government is decided depends on whether the PM resigns or is removed while their party is still in power, or if a general election is called.
If Boris Johnson resigns or is fired while the Tories are still elected, then this would trigger a leadership contest where party members decide the next leader.
Members of the Tory party can campaign to become leader, meaning Mr Raab could throw his hat in the ring, as Theresa May did successfully when David Cameron resigned in 2016 after the Brexit vote.
Theresa May was selected to be the new Conservative leader in 2016. (Picture: John Phillips/Getty Images)
Once a new leader is elected, Boris Johnson would be expected to offer his resignation to the Queen.
There doesn’t need to be a general election, although incoming prime ministers will often choose to hold one.
If a general election is called and the Tories are beaten by another party, Boris Johnson would tender his resignation and the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons would take charge.
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